Linn County Sheriff Michelle Duncan reports yesterday, at 4:14 p.m., dispatch received information an airplane went down in the area of Mount Jefferson. Hikers in the area reported hearing what sounded like an airplane engine followed by a loud crash.
Two hikers were on the Pacific Crest Trail when they heard the crash and said they could smell fuel but did not see an airplane. The report was followed by United States Air Force Rescue Coordination Center (AFRCC) contacting Dispatch and stated they had an airplane radar that disappeared over the Mount Jefferson Wilderness Area. At around 6:25 p.m. the AFRCC called back and said they confirmed radar showed a small plane go down and provided a general area. Linn County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue, along with Life Flight, were activated to search for the downed airplane. Life Flight flew the area but was not able to identify a crash site due to weather conditions. Additional air resources (United States Coast Guard) also responded and were unable to locate any downed airplane.
While crews were searching, the AFRCC advised they had received a report of a missing/overdue aircraft. The missing aircraft was a 1996 Piper Cherokee single engine plane from Llano, California.
The following morning on September 23, 2022, at around 9:00 a.m., a United States Coast Guard helicopter flying search patterns during the daylight located the crash site east of Marion Lake between Mount Jefferson and Three Fingered Jack.
Linn County Search and Rescue teams hiked into the area and have set up camp near the crash location. Rescuers confirmed the pilot was deceased as the crash was not survivable. The identity of the pilot has not been released at this time.
The investigation is ongoing as the Linn County Sheriff’s Office coordinates with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). The Linn County Sheriff’s Office was assisted by the Deschutes County Dispatch Center, Life Flight, US Coast Guard, Federal Aviation Administration, and National Transportation Safety Board with this investigation.