UPDATE: Debris from missing aircraft found in water-filled quarry, now a recovery mission

Updated: September 14, 2020 06:18 PM
Created: September 13, 2020 09:00 PM

A plane that had been missing since Sunday night was found Monday, according to Washington County Sheriff Dan Starry.

Starry said crews are now working on a recovery mission for the plane and the three people who were on board.

According to the Washington County Sheriff's Office, a pilot and two passengers took off from Fleming Field Municipal Airport in South St. Paul Sunday afternoon, in a Cessna aircraft. The last contact before crashing in a water-filled quarry was when the plane popped up on radar in Red Wing (about 40 miles from the recovery site).

Monday, the sheriff's office said search teams believed the plane was in a water-filled quarry on Grey Cloud Island. While teams didn't find the plane Sunday night, they did find debris leading them to believe they were in the right area.

Dive teams searched the water, but the sheriff's office called the conditions difficult, noting that the quarry walls are sand-based and the quarry is up to 200 feet deep.

Washington County Sheriff Dan Starry said debris was located more than 70 feet underwater shortly before 11 p.m. Sunday night.

As of Monday, Starry said the efforts were now a recovery operation, not a rescue.

At one point Sunday night, there was a heavy law enforcement presence and those searching were focusing on the area around Grey Cloud Island.

Originally, Dakota County emergency crews asked for assistance from Washington County in the search – following that, the Cottage Grove Police Department along with the Stillwater and south metro fire departments helped in the search. 

A KSTP crew spoke with some goose hunters in the area who were asked to leave so those searching could launch their boats. The goose hunters said some friends of theirs living in the area said they heard a loud explosion, but it's not yet known if that's connected to the search.

Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration originally stated they would lead the investigation and that they expected to be at the scene for a couple days.

However, in an update Monday afternoon, the NTSB stated it would not be traveling to the scene "at this time."

Information on why the plane went down and whether there were any distress calls has not yet been released. Starry said that will likely come from the follow-up investigation.

Chopper 5 flew above the scene of the search efforts Monday morning.

Sheriff Starry also provided an update on the search Monday morning. You can watch that full press conference below.

This is a developing news story. KSTP is working to get more details on this story and will post updates as more information becomes available.

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