The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office has taken over the investigation into the crash of a single-engine Cessna 182 that departed Santa Barbara just after 7 a.m. Sunday en route to Truckee in the Lake Tahoe area, according to sheriff’s spokeswoman Raquel Zick.
The pilot and sole occupant — 61-year-old Debra Nicholson from the Lake Tahoe area — had not been located as of Monday night, Zick said.
An oil sheen and debris believed to be from the aircraft were discovered Sunday about 2 miles off UCSB’s Campus Point.
The water in the area reportedly is between 180 and 250 feet deep, which is beyond the capabilities of local search teams.
“The Sheriff’s Office has requested assistance from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Special Enforcement Bureau’s dive program…due to the depth of the location and equipment required for this operation,” Zick said.
The team, which is capable of dives to depths of 300 feet, arrived at the scene Monday with its ocean rescue boat, Zick said.
The blue-and-white Cessna 182 flew into Santa Barbara on Friday, according to airport spokeswoman Deanna Zachrisson.
The plane took off Sunday from one of the airport’s two parallel north-south runways, Zachrisson said.
According to flight-tracking data, the small plane appeared to reach an altitude of about 1,600 feet before plunging into the ocean.
After the crash was reported, sheriff’s personnel searched for the plane and pilot, with the assistance of the U.S. Coast Guard, county firefighters, the Santa Barbara Harbor Patrol, and a county helicopter.
The Coast Guard suspended its search and rescue operations on Monday and turned the incident over to the Sheriff’s Office.
The cause of the crash is under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board.