LUDINGTON, Mich. - A medical transport plane headed to the Mayo Clinic carrying five people crashed into Lake Michigan on Friday and one person was rescued by a boater, officials said.
U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Nathaniel Parks said the plane went down shortly after 10 a.m. a few miles off the shore of Ludington, a resort town on Michigan's west coast. A boater in the lake rescued one passenger about two hours later, and the search for the other four was under way.
The Cessna 206 left Alma, about 150 miles northwest of Detroit, Friday morning en route to Rochester, Minn., said Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Cory. Parks said the crash was reported by a witness as well as a distress signal from the plane via satellite.
About 10 minutes before the plane went down, the pilot reported a loss of power to an air traffic controller at the Minneapolis Center, the FAA said. At the time, it was overcast with light winds and visibility of about 10 miles, the National Weather Service said.
A map of the plane's flight path from flightaware.com suggests problems developed about one-third of the way into the flight when the westbound plane doubled back over Lake Michigan. It then made a steep decline in altitude near Ludington.
Carol Freed, who owned the plane along with her husband, Jerry, said her husband that was on the plane with friend and pilot Earl Davidson. She said they regularly flew people to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester on a volunteer basis.
"We've all been to Mayo Clinic for various reasons," Carol Freed, of Alma, told The Associated Press. "A lot of people cannot get a flight there due to time constraints and cost."
She said she could not provide more information on the crash, including details on the search efforts. She said everyone on the plane was from the Alma area.
No other details were immediately available.
It wasn't the first time a medical flight has crashed in Lake Michigan. A Survival Flight plane carrying donor organs for a double lung transplant operation crashed in June 2007 into the lake near Milwaukee on its way to the University of Michigan Health System hospital in Ann Arbor. All six people on board the Cessna 550 Citation were killed.