The Cessna Grand Caravan 208B EX went down in a Snohomish County field off Highway 2 Friday morning (November 18), sparking a fire. Snohomish fire crews and police responded to the scene but officials said it was "extremely difficult" to work through.
“The terrain and the vegetation and where we were at was extremely difficult to access,” Snohomish District 4 Fire Chief Don Waller told reporters.
Two test pilots, a test flight director, and an instrumental engineer were killed in the flight, Raisbeck Engineers, a Seattle-based company that rented the Cessna, told KING 5. The pilots, who each had 10,000 test flight hours, were reportedly collecting baseline data before modifying the plane. All of the victims worked for Raisbeck and they haven't been publicly identified.
"All the members of the Raisbeck family are devastated by this tragic accident. And while Raisbeck feels this loss deeply, we cannot begin to imagine the loss and pain of the families and other loved ones of these crew members," President Hal Chrisman, the company's president, said in a statement.
Several witnesses watched with horror as the plane collided with the ground and burst into flames. Ken Baxter said he saw the aircraft break apart in the air from his kitchen window.
“I had just witnessed a plane catastrophe of some sort, this plane is coming down and it comes spiraling down," Baxter recounted to KING 5. "God I wish I could reach up there and pull them out of that plane."
The National Transportation Safety Board is leading the crash investigation. An agency spokesperson said it could take 12 to 24 months to determine a cause, but a preliminary report is expected in some days.