Coast Guard suspends search for 3 people after plane crash near San Clemente Island

Coast Guard
Posted at 11:20 AM, May 11, 2023

The Coast Guard has suspended its search for three people after a plane contracted by the U.S. Navy crashed Wednesday off the coast of a Southern California island.

The plane, a Phoenix Air Learjet, crashed approximately one mile southwest of San Clemente Island around 8 a.m. Wednesday, a Coast Guard press release said. Emergency response crews located a debris field in that area but failed to locate the missing passengers.

The Learjet was not a military plane. It is unclear if any of the three missing passengers were members of the military. The plane was reportedly contracted by the U.S. Navy, the Coast Guard press release said.

The identities of the missing passengers have not been publicly released.

The Los Angeles Times reported that the U.S. Navy contracts smaller aircraft for “shuttle flights similar to a bus” and that the aircraft’s mission and destination were not known at the time of publication.

“Suspending search efforts is one of the hardest decisions to be made, but after aggressively searching the area around San Clemente Island for more than 24 hours using land, air and surface assets with negative results, the decision was made to suspend the active search until further information or developments occur,” Capt. Jim Spitler, commander of U.S. Coast Guard Sector San Diego said in a Coast Guard press release. “Our thoughts are with the family and friends of the missing passengers.”

The plane took off from Point Mugu Naval Air Station south of Oxnard.

Search assets from the Coast Guard, Navy, U.S. Air Force and U.S. Customs and Border Protection all assisted in the search, which covered 334 square miles.

San Clemente Island is owned and operated by the U.S. Navy and is home to U.S. Navy SEALs training facilities. The island is located roughly 70 miles off the coast of California.