Coroner identifies woman found dead near where small plane crashed in ocean south of San Francisco

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HALF MOON BAY, Calif. — A woman whose body was found in the water near where a small plane crashed into the ocean off the California coast was identified Tuesday as a 27-year-old San Francisco resident. Federal officials now say it’s believed four people were on board the plane.

The crash was reported around 7 p.m. Sunday by a 911 caller who said the single-engine plane was in obvious distress and appeared to go down toward the water near Half Moon Bay, according to the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office.

The woman’s body was spotted Monday morning floating in the water nearby by the crew of a commercial fishing boat. The San Mateo County Coroner’s Office identified her as Emma Willmer-Shiles, 27, of San Francisco.

It wasn’t immediately known if the woman was on the aircraft, but the sheriff’s office said in a statement that “it is thought she is likely associated with the plane crash given she was located in the same location.”

The National Transportation Safety Board said in a statement Tuesday that “reports indicate the plane was carrying the pilot and three other people.”

The Federal Aviation Administration had previously said it was believed two people were aboard the Cozy Mark IV, a four-seat light aircraft that can be built from a kit. Only the one body has been recovered in the area of Ross Cove, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) south of San Francisco.

The U.S. Coast Guard said a helicopter and boat crew looked in a 28-square mile (73-square-kilometer) area for nearly 6 hours before calling off the search around mid-morning Monday. Willmer-Shiles’ body was found a few hours later.

A witness, Melissa Richter, told KRON-TV she was dining on a patio at Moss Beach Distillery when she heard an engine losing power, “like you hear in the movies, when a plane is about to crash.” Richter said the plane came over the top of the building and she heard the engine cut out before it went out of sight.

The NTSB said its investigators arrived on scene Tuesday to document the wreckage and interview witnesses. A preliminary report is expected within 30 days.

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