CAPE ELIZABETH, Maine — A man has died after a small airplane crashed and sank near Fort Williams Park early Sunday afternoon.
The pilot, described to be a male in his 50s from the Durham area, was believed to be the only person in the plane, said Chief Randy Bucklin of the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Northern New England Command Center. Bucklin wouldn’t release the pilot’s name.
The yellow, single-engine, four-seat plane crashed into the water near the rocky shore just before noon and sank, said Bucklin. The plane took off from Turner, he said.
The U.S. Coast Guard, fire departments from Portland, Cape Elizabeth and Scarborough and Cape Elizabeth police were on scene.
The search was suspended after a family member said the pilot was the only person on the plane.
“We spoke with his family. He was the only one on there. We suspended our search based on that information,” said Bucklin. “We’re 99.9 percent sure he was alone. Just to make sure there was no possibility of him picking up someone en route, we’re working with the FAA to confirm his flight plan. We’re waiting on that data to go to case closed.”
Witnesses said they saw a man emerge from the plane after the crash and hold onto a flotation device, but he appeared to lose consciousness, according to The Portland Press Herald. Dozens of boats were involved in a search-and-rescue effort near the Portland Head Light, a historic lighthouse.
Bucklin said good Samaritans passed the victim to EMS personnel on the beach, and he was taken away by ambulance.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.