Grandfather dead, grandson missing after plane crash near Florence
FLORENCE, Ore. - A grandfather from Florence died and his 15-year-old grandson remains missing after their small plane crashed into the ocean Sunday morning.
The Coast Guard pulled 69-year-old Richard Munger from the water Sunday. He was pronounced dead.
The search for Munger's grandson, 15-year-old Benjamin Dressler of Washington state, continued Monday. No hometown information about him was immediately available.
"I know in my own heart that Rick did everything he possibly could to save himself and his grandson and the airplane, too," said Steve Saubert, a volunteer at the Florence Municipal Airport.
Divers hoped to enter the water off the North Jetty in calm seas on Monday.
The beach near the North Jetty reopened to the public Sunday evening.
The Lane County sheriff's office said the single-engine plane took off Sunday morning from Florence and crashed about 500 yards offshore.
"Great person," Saubert said of Munger. "You know he's a pharmacist, and worked hard, helped a lot of people, and we're going to miss him."
U.S. Coast Guard Senior Chief Jim Greenlief said lifeboats were on scene with 15 minutes.
"The helicopter arrived shortly thereafter and started the search in the same way, and they were the ones that spotted the first victim," he said.
Greenlief said Munger was pronounced dead at the scene.
As of late Sunday, the search efforts had been exhuasted and the Coast Guard suspended the search.
"It's really heartbreaking here for us at the station," Greenlief said. "But we did what we were trained to do, and we would do it again if the call was there."
All that remains on the beach from Sunday's response are tracks in the sand. The FAA and NTSB are now in charge of the investigation.
Federal authorities are investigating. The plane was a Grumman American AA5.