Two people died in a plane crash Sunday over Lake Coeur d’Alene in Idaho, and as many as six other people may be missing, the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office has confirmed.
Two planes collided with each other and then crashed into Coeur d’Alene Lake around 2:20 p.m. local time (4:20 p.m. E.T.), according to a release from the sheriff’s office.
Both planes have been located and are in 127 feet of water, it added.
Lt. Ryan Higgins with the sheriff’s office confirmed two bodies had been recovered from the planes. The victims have not been identified.
He said initial reports suggest there were a total of eight passengers and crew on the two planes, but that is still being verified.
Investigators do not believe there are any survivors in the crash, and have not established the cause of the collision.
Witness Carissa Lehmkuhl was in a boat with friends as the crash unfolded and debris rained on the lake.
“I looked at two of my girlfriends sitting across from me, they both screamed and had terrified faces, and were pointing at something at the water,” Lehmkuhl told NBC News on Monday.
“So I look over, and it was right after the first two planes hit, and I saw the debris raining down, and I didn’t register what happened. It was a mass of debris raining down and an explosion.”
Lehmkuhl said her boat raced toward the wreckage and got there in about 20 seconds.
“We immediately drove right over, and our first thought was to help, but you could smell the fuel vividly, and with all the wreckage everywhere, we were concerned for our safety,” she said. “I wasn’t sure if it was dangerous, it was just kind of eerie and scary.”
John Cowles told the Spokane Spokesman-Review that he was on the lake with his family at the time of the crash. Cowles said he saw what appeared to be an “engine explosion” on a seaplane flying no more than 200 feet overhead. One of the plane’s wings then separated, and the plane fell into the water, he said.
Another witness, Patrick Pearce, told the newspaper that he saw two single-engine planes coming towards each other, 800 to 900 feet above the water. Pearce, a pilot himself, said he recognized by the engine sounds that both planes were traveling at a fairly high rate of speed.
The planes collided before crashing into the lake, Pearce said.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which will be investigating the incident along with the National Transportation Safety Board, said one of the aircraft involved was a Cessna 206. They don’t yet know the make and model of the other aircraft.