Plane crash kills three -- West Isle Air plane went down on Decatur
June 17, 2008 · Updated 2:36 PM
Three men died Oct. 3 when their chartered West Isle Air plane crashed on Decatur Island shortly after takeoff. The four-passenger single-engine Cessna 172 crashed at 1:45 p.m. while heading west over a forested hill. It was leaving Decatur Island for Anacortes.
Sheriffs officials have identified the pilot and two passengers of the West Isle Air flight, They are Michael James Laird, 56, of Graham, pilot; Darron Scott Ramey, 37, Anacortes; Brett Evans, 35, Coupeville.
The pilot was an experienced commercial aviator and company veteran, Ross said. He was one of our Chieftain pilots and had been with us quite a while. Right now, theres not a clue as to why the plane went down.
Ramey and Evans were doing construction work on the island and were headed home when the crash occurred.
The plane was on its return trip to Anacortes airport following its scheduled 1:35 p.m. takeoff.
Witnesses said the plane failed to keep its elevation after initially clearing the trees at the north end of the runway.
Decatur Island residents Donald and Sharon Hall were working close to the runway when the plane took off. It took off, got several hundred yards past the runway and then just went down into the woods, Donald Hall said. It took them about an hour to find the crash site.
Neighbor Sarah Jones said she was alerted to the plane going down when she heard Sharon Hall scream. Jones then heard the plane crash into the forest. It sounded like metal against wood, Jones said.
Sheriffs Deputy Eric Gardiner, who is also an EMT, flew to the site with Paramedic Jim Ricks and EMT Lainie Volk. There were some attempts at revival, Volk said of the victims. Not much could be done, ultimately.
Federal Aviation Administration investigators are conducting a thorough examination of the planes maintenance records, West Isle Air Vice President Dave Ross said.
West Isle has a fleet of 17 planes and flies chartered and scheduled routes throughout the San Juans. It was the companys first serious accident in 17 years of operation, Ross said.
It hasnt been a very good day for us, he said.