SUNRIVER — One man was killed and another man hospitalized after a seaplane crashed in the Deschutes River in Sunriver on Saturday morning, according to the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office and the Federal Aviation Administration.
The Maule M-7-235B took off from the Sunriver Airport, and the pilot attempted to land in the river for unknown reasons, FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said.
The plane flipped upside down in the river, Gregor said.
Jim Bennett, a spokesman for Sunriver Fire and Rescue, said authorities received a report of the crash at 10:42 a.m. The plane crashed south of the airport and was swept about 100 yards in the river before coming to rest. An Oregon State Police pickup truck was driven to the area and tethered to the plane to keep it in place.
The site of the crash is surrounded by meadows and pastures along a popular trail near the end of River Road.
Four bystanders jumped into the river to try and help the plane’s occupants. Sunriver rescue personnel helped them to shore, along with the surviving crash victim, who was able to escape the upside-down plane on his own, said Sgt. Nathan Garibay, a spokesman for the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office. The crash survivor was taken to St. Charles Bend with injuries that were thought to be non-life-threatening, Garibay said.
Divers recovered the body of the man killed in the crash about 1:45 p.m.
Neither man was identified publicly by friends or authorities.
Jeff Reese, a pilot and friend of the man killed in the crash, said he saw the plane from his home in Sunriver.
“As I looked up I saw it about 75 to 100 feet off the ground and it appeared to have trouble gaining altitude,” Reese said. “I saw him headed for the water. I knew he was in trouble. I saw the splash and heard it.”
The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the crash. It typically takes the NTSB, which is leading the investigation, a year or more to determine a probable cause of an accident. Neither agency identifies people involved in aircraft accidents.
This was the third fatal plane crash in the history of the Sunriver Airport, according to NTSB records.
On July 16, 2008, a Cessna 441 Conquest, a twin-engine turboprop, bounced on the airport runway during a landing and tumbled into a nearby field, according to NTSB accident records. Douglas John Sharratt, the pilot and the only person on board, was killed in the crash.
On Jan. 13, 1983, Dale Howard Moore, an experienced stunt pilot, was killed when his single-engine Bellanca 180 crashed while he was attempting to roll at the Sunriver Airport, according to Bulletin archives.
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