Missing pilot in collision of planes over San Pablo Bay presumed dead

The pilot whose Cessna plunged into San Pablo Bay near San Francisco on Sunday after a collision with another plane is presumed dead.

The Cessna’s wreckage was located Monday afternoon in about 13 feet of water about 1.5 miles off the Richmond shoreline east of San Francisco.

The search and rescue effort has since turned to recovery, with the pilot “presumed fatally injured,” according to an incident report logged with the Federal Aviation Administration, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The collision involved the Cessna 210 and a Hawker Sea Fury TMK 20, which collided about 4:05 p.m. Sunday, said FAA spokesman Ian Gregor.


The Sea Fury was able to safely land, but the Cessna suffered significant damage. Witnesses described seeing the Cessna spiral down before hitting the bay, setting off the search and rescue effort. Authorities have not released the name of the missing pilot.

The Sea Fury’s occupants -- a husband and wife -- were not injured. It was unclear how many people were in the Cessna, KGO-TV reported.

Investigators, meanwhile, were still trying to determine what caused the planes, which were flying together, to collide. National Transportation Safety Board investigator Howard Plagens told KGO-TV that the pilot of a vintage Sea Fury had pulled up to the left side of the Cessna when he heard a “thump.”

As the Cessna spiraled down, the Sea Fury pilot focused on trying to land his plane safely.

A witness described the horror she felt as she saw the Cessna descend.

“It’s like watching somebody die in front of you,” Bonny Dunn, a mechanic who works for Southwest at the Oakland International Airport told NBC Bay Area. “You know there is no possible way you can survive.”

Over the course of two interviews since the collision, the surviving pilot told Plagens he did not witness the Cessna actually hit the water, KGO-TV reported.

“Obviously, he’s still shaken up,” Plagens said.

Twitter: @jasonbretwells | Facebook | Google+