1 woman dead, 2 possibly missing in small plane crash in lagoon off San Francisco Bay

Thursday, September 2, 2010

1 dead in plane crash off San Francisco Bay

REDWOOD SHORES, Calif. — A small plane that crashed into a lagoon off San Francisco Bay on Thursday, killing at least one woman, belongs to the founder of a local steel company who is also feared dead.

An employee of R.E. Borrmann’s Steel Co. says the twin-engine Beechcraft Queen Air was owned by company founder 92-year-old Robert Borrmann.

Employee Charlene Marshall says Borrmann, his girlfriend and the pilot are believed to have been on the plane that crashed a mile after taking off from San Carlos airport.

“His son Paul, who runs the company, heard about the crash and sent one of the guys from the shop down there. It was his plane,” Marshall said through tears.

Redwood City Fire Battalion Chief Dave Pucci said divers recovered the body of a 40-year-old woman outside the plane. They were searching for other possible victims.

The 1961-model plane took off minutes earlier from San Carlos airport about a mile away.

Pucci said divers who reached the wreckage found no one else inside the plane and were searching the dark, murky waters for two other people who may have been on board.

Divers have been hindered in the rescue because of contamination in the lagoon caused by a 48,000-gallon sewage spill last week. County officials have barred access to its waters because of high amounts of E.coli and other bacteria.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Lynn Lunsford said the agency was aware of the crash and that the National Transportation Safety Board was sending investigators.

Diana DeFrank said she was eating lunch with her daughter at a nearby restaurant when she heard the plane hit the water. She left the restaurant and saw the plane floating for a few minutes before it began to sink.

Three or four passers-by jumped into the water in an effort to rescue any passengers, she said, but were unable to do so.

About two hours after the plane crashed, only a few inches of the aircraft was visible above the water.

The U.S. Coast Guard said it was sending a team to evaluate reports of pollution coming from the plane.

Associated Press writers Terence Chea and Jason Dearen contributed to this report from San Francisco.

will not be displayed