Missing medical plane found in Calif.; 2 dead

Arcata, Calif. — Authorities say searchers have found the wreckage of a small medical transport plane in remote Northern California and that at least two people are dead.

A pilot was taking a flight nurse, a transport medic and a patient from Crescent City, near the Oregon border, to Oakland. The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office didn’t immediately release information about the fates of the other two people aboard.

Rescue teams found the crash site Friday on land owned by a private timber company in Humboldt County, about 280 miles north of San Francisco.

Officials say the pilot reported smoke filling the cockpit and declared an emergency around 1 a.m.

The National Transportation and Safety Board has been notified.

The plane lost contact early in the flight path, the Federal Aviation Administration said. The pilot planned to return to Crescent City before vanishing from radar 5 miles north of the Arcata-Eureka Airport on the far northern coast, FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said.

The plane is part of Cal-Ore Life Flight, a small company of about six planes that transports patients throughout Northern California and Oregon. Flights at night are common, said Don Wharton, a spokesman for parent company REACH Air Medical Services.

“It is an active search,” Wharton said. “We’re trying to remain very positive and hopeful that the results of the search are the best outcome.”