COLVILLE, Wash. — The search for a missing Colville pilot and his plane has been concluded after a local resident discovered the body of the pilot in Sullivan Lake on Saturday.
The plane had not been found as of Saturday afternoon, but Pend Oreille County Sheriff Glenn Blakeslee said he believes it is in the lake, which is almost 300 feet deep in parts.
“There’s a possibility that we will never locate it,” Blakeslee said.
Terry Coleman, 67, flew out of the Colville Municipal Airport around noon Monday, intending to return in about an hour. Family notified authorities when he did not return and the search began Monday evening.
Search crews, coordinated by the Washington state Department of Transportation, focused on the area around Sullivan Lake and the town of Ione, based on the length of time Coleman was expected to fly, a ping of his cellphone recorded on a tower in nearby Metaline Falls and radar that showed a plane in that general area at the time he would have been flying.
“It was not an illogical thing for us to assume that he would fly that direction,” Blakeslee said.
Crews from several local agencies and search and rescue groups searched the area both by air and on the ground. Low visibility, rain and snow prevented planes and helicopters from flying on several days of the search, but they were used whenever it was deemed safe to send them out. Ground crews worked throughout the area, including in tough, steep terrain.