Small plane goes down in the Columbia River at Astoria, 2 survive

Small plane goes down in the Columbia River at Astoria, 2 survive »Play Video

ASTORIA, Ore. - A small plane ended up in the Columbia River at Astoria Friday afternoon and the two people on board, members of an old, well-established Astoria family, survived.

According to the Astoria Coast Guard, at 4:42 p.m., their private plane went into the water off the 17th Street Pier.  It was reportedly headed from Astoria to Seattle.

Bill Henningsgaard and his mother, Edith Henningsgaard were on board and they were able to get out.  A Columbia River Bar pilot boat picked them up and brought them ashore.  A lot of people in Astoria will recognize their names. Bill is a retired Microsoft engineer and Edith was Astoria's mayor from 1983 to 1990.

A lot of people were in town for the Astoria-Warrenton Crab, Seafood & Wine Festival and many likely saw the plane go down.  One of those folks, Brad Gulleff, said he saw the whole thing from his Astoria home.

"I was looking out the window at the river and saw a small plane flying fast way too close to the river," he said in an e-mail to KATU News.  "I knew it was trouble, then it hit the water.  I got in my car and went down by the river and saw a Pilot boat rescue the two people off the wing.  After that, the plane started floating downriver toward the Megler Bridge."

According to Clatsop County Sheriff Tom Bergin, the plane was at 8,000 feet when the engine went out and there was nothing else to do but land it in the river. 

"They obviously had a little help from above," Bergin said.

Crews were working Friday night to recover the plane from the water to minimize environmental damage.  An unknown amount of fuel was reported around the site of the plane crash.