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CBP Assists in Search of Downed Civilian Plane: 1 Survivor, 2 People Missing

Release Date: 
July 17, 2015

BELLINGHAM, Wash. – U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Office of Air and Marine (OAM) assisted in the search of a missing civilian plane on Saturday, July 11. OAM’s Bellingham Air and Marine Branch (BAMB) launched a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter in order to search the primary search grid. Black Hawks are well suited to support search and rescue operations over land and water because of their extensive interior, which allows aircrew to assess and stabilize injured persons.

A UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter swings into action to search for a downed plane and the four occupants.  Black Hawks are used by the Office of Air & Marine to perform missions such as aerial patrol, enforcement relocation, and search and rescue.

A UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter swings into action to search for a downed plane and the four occupants. Black Hawks are used by the Office of Air & Marine to perform missions such as aerial patrol, enforcement relocation, and search and rescue.

The crash of the 1949 Beech A35 aircraft, registered to Lee Bowman, resulted in one known survivor and two people who have not yet been located. The plane departed from Kalispell, Montana, and was expected to land in Lynden, Washington, around 4 p.m. EST on Saturday, July 11. It crossed into Washington State around 2:21 p.m. Saturday and dropped off radar near Omak, Washington, at 3:21 p.m. The last signal from a cellphone on the plane was detected near Omak at 3:49 p.m., according to the Washington State Department of Transportation.

The known survivor, Autumn Veatch, 16, of Bellingham, was found on Highway 20 on Monday, July 13. She was taken to a hospital for treatment of minor injuries and burns, according to her family.

Wreckage consistent with the missing aircraft was spotted by the Washington State Department of Transportation on Wednesday, July 15.

The U.S. Navy as well as several county search and rescue teams also participated. “The Office of Air and Marine has a long and close collaborative relationship with our public safety partners at the state and local levels,” said Neil van den Heuvel, Acting Director, Air Operations, BAMB. “OAM continually strives to strengthen these relationships because they benefit our communities. We were glad to provide search aircraft and expertise during this joint search operation.”

Media inquiries are being directed to Lt. Colonel Jeff Lustick, the Public Information Officer for the Civil Air Patrol in Bellingham, Washington. He can be reached at Jeff@Lustick.com or (360) 510-1139.

Last modified: 
February 9, 2017