Tuesday, May 22 , 2018, 6:05 am | Fair 51º


Local News

Downed Plane Found East of Santa Maria

Two occupants unharmed in incident along Highway 166

Two people were uninjured Friday after a single-engine plane's pilot declared in-flight emergency, landed off Highway 166 approximately 40 miles east of Santa Maria, and flipped upside down.

With a report the plane had engine trouble and intended to try to land on the roadway, San Luis Obispo County sheriff's deputies initially closed a segment of Highway 166 to allow the plane to safely reach the ground. 

Cal Fire from San Luis Obispo County and Santa Barbara County Fire Department crews began searching on Highway 166 near Twitchell Reservoir at approximately 10:35 a.m., according to emergency dispatch reports.

Initial searchers didn’t spot the plane as crews continued to look for the “missing aircraft,” Cal Fire officials said.

The Santa Barbara County Air Support Unit helicopter headed to the area to help search from above.

By 11:15 a.m., U.S. Forest Service personnel spotted the upside-down plane with two occupants apparently uninjured, according to emergency dispatch reports.

The plane had touched down in the riverbed adjacent to Highway 166 and flipped over, according to Tony Cipolla, spokesman for the San Luis Obispo Sheriff's Department.

The pilot and his passenger were able to extricate themselves from the plane without any assistance, Cipolla said.

The pilot, John Charles Butler, 76, of Phoenix, Arizona, and the passenger, Pamela Butler Zirion, 67, of San Luis Obispo, declined medical assistance at the scene, Cipolla added.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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