UPDATED: Rescue personnel will continue searching the water off Pier Avenue in Oceano Wednesday morning after calling off a search for victims of a plane crash about a mile offshore when the sun set Tuesday night.
The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department responded to a 911 call around 2 p.m. Tuesday of a possible plane down in the ocean south of the Pismo Pier.
“(The caller) reported they heard what sounded like an engine sputtering and then a crash into the ocean,” said Sheriff’s Department Tony Cipolla spokesman. “But they didn’t see anything.”
Search-and-rescue efforts were launched from the beach area below Pier Avenue — the main entrance to the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area — shortly after 2 p.m. and continued for about two hours.
Those efforts, which included a team of rescue divers, turned into a recovery incident when airplane debris, reportedly a seat cushion, was found about an hour into the initial search for possible survivors.
The United States Coast Guard reported a wallet and human remains were found in the ocean near where the plane is believed to have gone down. The Coast Guard deployed a 110-foot patrol boat, two 47-foot search-and-rescue boats and a helicopter to aid in the search.
If no body, or bodies, is recovered during the overnight hours, search efforts for victims of the crash will resume at 7 a.m. today, Cipolla said.
No reports of missing planes had been logged at the local airports — Santa Maria and San Luis Obispo — or at the Santa Barbara Municipal or Los Angeles International airports, Cipolla said.
“We have called them all and so far nothing,” he said, adding authorities also don’t know the make of the plane or how many people were on board.
The Oceano County Airport, which doesn’t have an air traffic control tower, is about a half mile from the end of Pier Avenue. It’s also unknown whether the plane may have taken off from the community airport or if the pilot was attempting to land at the facility.
Numerous agencies including Port San Luis Harbor Patrol, Cal Fire, Five Cities Fire Authority, California Department of Parks and Recreation and Fish and Game also aided in Tuesday’s search-and-rescue efforts.
Glen Ray, 56, died in early January 2013 after crashing a single-engine plane in the Oceano Dunes.
Original post: Authorities searched this afternoon for survivors aboard an aircraft that went down off the coast near Oceano.
Authorities received a call around 2 p.m. from someone who said that they heard what sounded like a plane going down into the ocean. Crews from the California Department of Parks and Rec, the California Highway Patrol, harbor patrol, the coast guard and crews from the Five City Fire Authority responded to the scene.
Authorities currently do not know what type of aircraft went down or how many people were on board the aircraft at the time, said San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Tony Cipolla in a news brief held on the scene.
“Some debris has been found, but we’re not sure exactly what kind of debris it is at this point,” he said. “We’re continuing to look in the ocean to see if there are any survivors."
The sheriff's dive team called off the search after the sun set Tuesday evening.
No planes have been reported missing out of San Luis Obispo, Santa Maria, Santa Barbara or LAX.
In a news release, the United States Coast Guard said search and rescue workers on scene reportedly found debris, human remains and a wallet.
The Coast Guard currently has two 47-foot search and rescue boats, a 110-ft Patrol Boat and a search and rescue helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Los Angeles on scene searching the reported area.
Stay with Santa Maria Times as more details become available.