Bodies of pilot, passenger found with wreckage of missing plane - KPTV - FOX 12

Bodies of pilot, passenger found with wreckage of missing plane on OR coast

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Search crews located the wreckage of a missing plane and the bodies of the two people on board in the Columbia River near Astoria on Friday. (Photo: Clatsop County Sheriff's Office) Search crews located the wreckage of a missing plane and the bodies of the two people on board in the Columbia River near Astoria on Friday. (Photo: Clatsop County Sheriff's Office)
John McKibbin (Photo courtesy Identity Clark County) John McKibbin (Photo courtesy Identity Clark County)
ASTORIA, OR (KPTV) -

The wreckage of a plane that went missing over the Oregon coast has been found, along with the bodies of the two people who were on board.  

The search began Wednesday for a 1941 AT-6 North American military trainer plane, after it was reported missing out of Pearson Field in Vancouver.

The pilot was identified as 69-year-old John McKibbin, a former Washington lawmaker and current president of Identity Clark County.

Deputies said McKibbin was flying 63-year-old Irene Mustain to the coast to spread the ashes of her late husband in the Pacific Ocean.

McKibbin had told friends the trip would take about an hour. When several hours passed, they called for help.

Investigators said the plane crashed into the Columbia River about one mile north of Pier 39 near Astoria.

The U.S. Coast Guard and Clatsop County Sheriff's Office conducted multiple searches Wednesday and Thursday, but treacherous river conditions prevented dive teams from getting into the water until Friday.

Searchers had marked oil spots and anomalies in the water, and divers on Friday located the plane in numerous pieces on the floor of the river.

Deputies said the large search area had about 2 feet of visibility at any point.

McKibbin's body was located Friday afternoon and retrieved to shore. Mustain's body was also found, but due to the tangled wreckage and position of the fuselage, her body was not able to be recovered Friday.

Deputies said her body was marked and will be recovered as soon as the appropriate equipment is in place to for a recovery operation.

McKibbin served two terms in the state legislature, three terms as a Clark County commissioner and was former president of the Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce. He had been serving as the head of Identity Clark County, a nonprofit organization in Vancouver that focuses on the economic health of the region.

A candlelight vigil is scheduled for 6 p.m. Saturday at Pearson Field Historic Hangar, 101 E. Reserve St., Vancouver. Attendees are asked to bring candles. 

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