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Pilot and passenger of crashed plane identified by DNA 

Update April 10, 2014: The Coroner’s Unit of the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office has made a positive identification of the passenger on board a plane that crashed on Jan. 14 off the coast of Oceano. Based on DNA testing performed at a Department of Justice lab, the passenger has been identified as Alan George Gaynor, 52, of Los Angeles. The Sheriff’s Office previously released the identity of the pilot of the plane as David Brian Casey, 63, of Friday Harbor, Washington. The Sheriff’s Office, The National Transportation Safety Board and the FBI have tentatively set next week, weather permitting, for a recovery operation of the plane from the ocean floor.

Update March 14, 2014: The Coroner’s Unit of the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office released new information today regarding a plane crash that occurred on Jan. 14 off the coast of Oceano. Based on DNA testing performed at a Department of Justice lab, the pilot of the plane has been positively identified as David Brian Casey, 63, of Friday Harbor, Washington. Positive identification of the passenger on board that plane is still pending, although based on information gathered during the investigation, detectives believe that person to be Alan George Gaynor, 52, of Los Angeles. The Sheriff’s Office is continuing to work closely with the National Transportation Safety Board and the FBI to determine a date, weather permitting, for a recovery operation of the plane from the ocean floor.

Sheriff’s divers find crashed plane wreckage

Update Feb. 26, 2014: SCUBA divers with the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Underwater Search and Recovery Team working off the dive boat “Magic” located on Sunday the wreckage believed to be that of the airplane that went down off the coast of Oceano on Jan. 14, 2014.

Using all the information gathered from witnesses, radar, sonar and depth finders, the divers were able to locate a large debris field near the area they had been searching since the plane went down. Divers found what appears to be the wing, the fuselage, and other parts of the aircraft. Two small pieces that were believed to be from the plane were recovered, including a carburetor and part of the manifold as well as a metal tube. No human remains were found.

The Sheriff’s Office is now coordinating with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to recover the wreckage. Hundreds of hours were spent searching for the plane and through the dedication of all those involved in the search, hopefully, this will bring some closure to the families who lost a loved one in the accident. The search for any remains continues with the recovery effort.

Update Jan. 27, 2014: The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Dive Team and Marine Enforcement Unit on Monday briefed Sheriff Ian Parkinson on the continuing search efforts for a plane that crashed off the coast of Oceano. The sea conditions are still considered too dangerous for any diving activity and so the search for the plane that went down Jan. 14 remains suspended. The sheriff’s office has identified several possible locations to investigate and anticipates searching those areas but not until conditions improve. This is a decision that will be made on a day by day basis, according to a statement from the sheriff’s office. “The recovery of the plane and any remains is important to the sheriff’s office, but the safety of the divers is also a high priority and must be taken into consideration when evaluating a search and recovery mission,” the statement said.

Sheriff calls off search for crashed plane

Update 4 p.m., Jan. 22, 2014: On Wednesday Sheriff Parkinson met with members of the Sheriff’s Dive Team and Marine Enforcement Unit to evaluate continuing the search for a plane that crashed off the coast of Oceano. Because of the dangerous sea conditions at the crash site, the sheriff has suspended the search for the plane that went down on Jan. 14.

Those rough conditions are expected to last through the end of this week. At that time, the sheriff will re-evaluate the situation to determine if additional search measures will be taken. During this time, the Sheriff’s Office has been compiling sonar information and evaluating other possible dive locations.

They are also working in conjunction with State Parks to conduct a ground search of the beaches from Grover Beach to Guadalupe Beach to see if any plane debris has washed ashore. As part of the ongoing investigation, the Sheriff’s Office now has reasonable information to believe that there was a passenger on board the plane. Based on information gathered during the investigation, we believe the identity of the passenger is 52-year-old Alan George Gaynor of Los Angeles. Although we can not positively confirm the occupants of the plane at this time, their whereabouts remain unknown.

The Sheriff’s Office is in contact with the families of both the pilot and passenger and our deepest concerns remain with them. It is the Sheriff’s desire to do whatever is reasonable to continue recovery efforts based on the mission’s probability of success as well as the safety of the divers.

plane crash oceano

Sheriff’s Dive Team searching on Friday for the plane that crashed off the coast of Oceano.

Update 4:30 a.m., Jan. 18, 2014: Members of the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Dive Team conducted another search and recovery mission for a plane that crashed off the coast of Oceano on Jan. 14.

For the past four days, the Sheriff’s Dive Team and Marine Enforcement Division have been searching the area where the plane went down. Using sonar equipment, they are trying to locate the plane and potentially any bodies from the crash site.

On Friday dive team members searched several areas where sonar indicated there might be a potential find but they were unsuccessful in their attempts. The search will continue into the weekend where they will conduct additional sonar and scanning operations.

The Federal Aviation Administration confirmed Friday that two people were aboard a Morrisey 2150 registered to a David B. Casey of Friday Harbor, Wash. The plane took off Tuesday afternoon from Santa Maria Public Airport about 30 minutes before going down into the ocean, according to the FAA.

oceano plane crash

Sheriff’s Office vessel “The Rob Bryn” utilizing sonar equipment in the area where the plane went down off the coast of Oceano.

Plane crashes into ocean near Oceano

Update 2:50 p.m., Jan. 15, 2014: The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office is releasing new information on a plane crash that occurred Tuesday off the coast of Oceano. Based on information gathered during the course of the investigation, including a wallet found at the crash site and interviews, the Sheriff’s Office believes the pilot of the aircraft was David Brian Casey, 63, of Friday Harbor, Washington.

At this time, the Sheriff’s Office is trying to determine if there was a passenger on board the plane. It should be noted, no bodies have been recovered at this time. Since early this morning, the Sheriff’s Dive Team and Marine Enforcement Division have been searching the area where the plane went down.

Using sonar equipment, they are trying to locate the plane and potentially any bodies from the crash site. So far, they have been unsuccessful in their attempts but are continuing to search the area. Also involved in the search are Cal Fire, State Parks, CHP, Port San Luis Harbor Patrol, Coast Guard and Fish and Wildlife.

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This buoy marks the location of the plane crash off Oceano’s coastline.

Original story: San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a 911 call at about 2 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon. from a person who reported hearing a plane having engine problems and then crashing into the ocean about a mile offshore of Oceano. Sheriff’s deputies, detectives, and dive team along with State Parks, CHP, Port San Luis Harbor Patrol, Coast Guard, Five Cities Fire Authority, Cal Fire, Pismo Beach Police and California Fish and Wildlife responded to the incident. A search of the area was conducted. Debris from an airplane was found, but no aircraft was discovered. “We don’t know how many people were on board at this time,” said San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Tony Cipolla on Tuesday evening. “We don’t know what type of aircraft at this time.” Because of darkness, the search has been suspended for the night and will resume tomorrow morning. Once the aircraft has been located, the investigation will be turned over to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). There is no further information at this time.



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About the author: Publisher Scott Brennan

Scott Brennan is the publisher of this newspaper and founder of Access Publishing. Follow him on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, or follow his blog.