“Smash” star Megan Hilty’s pregnant sister, her winemaker brother-in-law and the couple’s young child have been identified among the 10 people who were killed when a floatplane crashed outside Seattle on Sunday.
The US Coast Guard on Tuesday released the names of all the victims, which also included a prominent Spokane civil rights activist and a California business owner.
The body of one of the deceased was recovered a short time after the float plane — a 55-year-old de Havilland Canada DHC-3 Otter — splashed down in Mutiny Bay. The other nine are still missing but presumed dead.
According to the Coast Guard, the dead include pilot Jason Winters, winery owner Ross Andrew Mickel, his pregnant wife Lauren Hilty and their child Remy Mickel.
Mickel was the founder of Woodinville-based Ross Andrew Winery. His wife Lauren was actress Megan Hilty’s younger sister, as TMZ first reported.
“We are deeply saddened and beyond devastated at the loss of our beloved Ross Mickel, Lauren Hilty, Remy and their unborn baby boy, Luca,” the Mickel and Hilty families said in a statement. “Our collective grief is unimaginable. They were a bright and shining light in the lives of everyone who knew them.”
Megan, 41, who starred in “Wicked” on Broadway and has two children of her own with her actor husband Brian Gallagher, has not publicly commented on the tragedy as of Tuesday.
The crash also claimed the life of 60-year-old Sandy Williams, who was a lecturer, filmmaker, founder of the Carl Maxey Center and editor of The Black Lens, an African American-focused newspaper.
“Sandy was a voice for the voiceless, a tireless advocate for marginalized people in Spokane, a journalist unafraid to speak truth to power, a builder of hope in her vision for the Carl Maxey Center, and a beloved friend to countless members of our community,” The Spokane County Human Rights Task Force said on Facebook.
Thayne McCulloh, president of Gonzaga University, said the community lost a leader, teacher, activist and powerful voice.
“I am devastated to learn of Sandy Williams’ passing and we @GonzagaU extend our condolences to her family, many friends and colleagues,” he tweeted. “Sandy: Rest In Peace.”
Also killed were passengers Joanne Mera, Patricia Hicks, Luke Ludwig, Rebecca Ludwig and Gabrielle Hanna.
Mera was a business owner from San Diego, The Seattle Times reported. Her niece, Sami Sullivan, said she was visiting family in Seattle when the crash occurred. She leaves behind three children and a husband of more than 30 years, Sullivan said.
“Joanne Mera was someone everyone gravitated towards,” Sullivan said in a statement. “She was the life of any party and the soul of our family. She was the best mom, wife, sister and friend.”
The Coast Guard ended the search for survivors on Monday afternoon after “saturating an area” of more than 2,100 square nautical miles.
“All next of kin have been notified of this decision,” the Coast Guard said on Twitter. “Our hearts go out to the families, loved ones and friends of those who remain missing and the deceased.”
The plane went down in Mutiny Bay off Whidbey Island, roughly 30 miles northwest of downtown Seattle and about halfway between Friday Harbor — a popular tourist spot — and its destination in Renton, just south of Seattle.
Officials received reports that “the aircraft dropped suddenly at a fair amount of speed and hit the water,” said Scott Giard, director of the US Coast Guard’s search and rescue for the Pacific Northwest. “We don’t have any video or pictures of the incident as of this moment.”
There was no distress call or distress beacon from the crashing plane, he said. The aircraft has an electronic locating transmitter onboard, but they have not received any transmission.
“That is very typical in times where there is either a hard landing or a crash of an aircraft,” he said.
The cause of the crash is unknown, authorities said.
The National Transportation Safety Board said on Monday they’re sending a team of seven to investigate the crash of the DHC-3 Turbine Otter.
Coast Guard searchers found “minimal debris,” Giard said. By Monday afternoon, they had only found three to four long and narrow pieces of aluminum, very few personal items, a seat and some small pieces of foam.
Without a clear picture of the actual crash, and not knowing whether it exploded on impact or immediately sank to the sea floor, 150 to 200 feet below, it’s difficult to know what happened to the plane, he said.
With Post Wires