A man who disappeared when his plane went down near Seattle on Tuesday evening has been identified by family members as Kodiak local Sean Hayes. 

The U.S. Coast Guard, which did not release his name, called off the search at 4 p.m. Wednesday. 

Hayes was flying from Kodiak to Lake Havasu City, Arizona, a trip he had done often, said family members. 

According to a Coast Guard press release, the pilot’s single-engine Cessna 170A went down over the Strait of Juan de Fuca, a body of water that borders Port Angeles and Canada.

The press release said that Hayes took off midday Tuesday from Ketchikan with the intended destination of Port Angeles.

Hayes sent out a mayday call around 5 p.m. on Tuesday before the plane went down. The call described land formations he could see and ships that were in the area, said the release. 

The Coast Guard’s Sector Puget Sound Command Center immediately started search and rescue efforts after the report. 

The Coast Guard built a search area based on the information from the mayday call, including the waters north and northwest of Port Angeles up to the international boundary line, said the press release. 

Rescue crews completed 22 different search patterns and covered 1,170 square miles over the 23 hours of searching. 

“We deeply appreciate the outpouring of love and support we’ve received from friends in Kodiak and across Alaska,” Hayes’ mother Jo Murphy and stepfather Rolan Ruoss said in an email.

“Your thoughts are a big help as we absorb this loss. Sean will be very missed by his many friends. We want to especially thank Jeff Wells in Port Angeles for responding to his mayday call and the U.S. Coast Guard members for their special efforts searching for Sean. Knowing that you were there for him makes this easier to bear.”

Forest Cobban, a close friend of Hayes, said the pilot’s “heart was always in that plane” and he “went out like he lived, doing what he loved to do.” 

The Coast Guard conducted the search with the help of U.S. Navy, Canadian Coast Guard and Royal Canadian Air Force crews and good Samaritan vessels. 

The Coast Guard did not release the cause of the incident. 

“Suspending search efforts is always an extremely tough decision,” said Capt. Nathan Coulter, chief of search and rescue for the U.S. Coast Guard’s 13th District, in the press release. “This was an extensive search involving close coordination between numerous federal, state and local agencies.”


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