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Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Witnesses describe how two planes collided over Idaho lake

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Three people have died and five are believed missing after a mid-air collision over a lake in Idaho.

The planes – a Cessna TU206G and a de Havilland DHC-2 – collided at 2:20pm on Sunday over Lake Coeur d’Alene, a 25 mile-long stretch of water in the Pacific Northwest.

Two bodies were recovered immediately from the water at the crash site, and a third later on at the bottom of the lake, the Kootenai County sheriff’s office told DailyMail.com.

The planes have been located under 127 feet of water.

One of the aircraft was a float plane operated by Brooks Seaplanes of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, which operates scenic flights over Lake Coeur d’ Alene, the sheriff’s office said.

That plane was carrying five passengers, including three children, and a pilot, the sheriff’s office said.

The second airplane was a Cessna 206 that was carrying at least two people, the sheriff’s office said.

Carissa Lehmkuhl was boating on the lake when the accident happened. 

‘Two of my friends in the boat screamed bloody murder,’ she told ABC’s local affiliate, KXLY

Two planes collided above Lake Coeur d´Alene on Sunday, leaving three dead and five missing

Two planes collided above Lake Coeur d´Alene on Sunday, leaving three dead and five missing

‘I saw the rest of the explosion and all the debris falling down.’ 

She said their boat and another were the first on the scene, in between Black Bay and Powderhorn Bay, south of Coeur d’Alene and across from Rockford Bay.

She said they ‘spotted two bodies pretty fast.

‘Two of the guys in our boat jumped out and held the bodies from floating away.’ 

It was not immediately clear what may have led to the crash. 

David Kilmer, whose house overlooks the lake, said he witnessed the aftermath of the crash.

‘My wife, Rebecca, saw a fireball and wings flying out of the fireball,’ he told the Coeur d’Alene Press

‘She said: “I just saw a plane explode,” so we went to the scene.’

A de Havilland DHC-2, like the one pictured, collided with another plane on Sunday in Idaho

A de Havilland DHC-2, like the one pictured, collided with another plane on Sunday in Idaho

The second plane involved was a Cessna TU206G, like the one pictured

The second plane involved was a Cessna TU206G, like the one pictured

Kilmer said that 20-30 boaters came to the scene to assist in the recovery.

Crews from Worley Fire, Coeur d’Alene Fire and Eastside Fire departments also assisted at the scene.

‘It was a great response by recreational boaters,’ Kilmer said. 

‘There were so many people on the lake doing whatever they could to help recover what they could. There was nothing left of the plane that was floating.’

Kilmer added that the lake was busy on the Independence Day holiday weekend.

‘We’ve seen a lot of planes in the air all day,’ Kilmer said. 

‘There were a lot of planes and people out enjoying the weekend. There was nothing we were able to do.’

Higgins also praised the help of boaters on the scene who tried to help before authorities showed up.

‘With the Fourth of July weekend, it was a nice sunny day with hundreds of boats out. 

‘As most boaters know, we can’t be there for everything as we only have so many boats. The boaters really rely on the other boaters and do the best they could to help each other out.’

Lake Coeur d'Alene attracts tourists to Idaho to go out on the lake in boats or hike the shore

Lake Coeur d’Alene attracts tourists to Idaho to go out on the lake in boats or hike the shore

Kootenai County sheriff’s office said they believed there were eight people on the planes, and no survivors.  

‘We’re working on sonar and dive operations as we speak, but at this point we’ve gone to a rescue — from a rescue to a recovery mode,’ said Lt. Ryan Higgins, from the Kootenai County sheriff’s office. 

There was a ‘pretty bad oil slick’ at the scene after the crash, he said 

Authorities are at Sunup Bay Boat Launch in Worley.

The area is closed and will remain shut down through Monday morning.   

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