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Woman's body discovered after small plane crash in Half Moon Bay

CALIFORNIA, USA - DECEMBER 28: A view of massive waves at Mavericks Beach of Half Moon Bay as high surf and coastal flood warning in California, United States on December 28, 2023. (Photo by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu via Getty Images)
The investigation continues into the Sunday night crash of a small plane in the waters near Half Moon Bay. (Tayfun Coskun / Getty Images)

Authorities on Monday suspended their search for possible survivors after a Cozy Mark IV plane crashed into the water near Half Moon Bay Sunday night, shortly after taking off from Half Moon Bay Airport.

Wreckage from the aircraft was found upside down in the water, and a woman's body was discovered nearby. Authorities are still trying to determine what happened.

The body was spotted by a commercial fishing boat close to the site of the crash Monday morning and taken to the San Mateo County Coroner's Office. The woman had not been identified as of Monday evening, but she is believed to be associated with the crash, the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office said in a statement.

The National Transportation Safety Board said its preliminary investigation indicates there were two people on board the plane.

Shortly after noon on Monday, Sgt. Philip Hallworth, a spokesperson for the sheriff's office, said urgent rescue efforts had been called off because the prospect of survivors was unlikely. The plane went down near Moss Beach, about two miles north of the Half Moon Bay Airport. A large piece of the plane washed up on the beach at Ross Cove.

Along with the sheriff's office, the Coastside Fire Protection District, California Highway Patrol and U.S. Coast Guard are involved in the investigation.

Witness reports described a plane flying erratically before falling from sight, according to the sheriff's office.

"We were having dinner out on the patio and we heard this motor engine puttering — like you hear in the movies, when a plane is about to crash," Melissa Richter, who was visiting the area from Maine, told ABC 7 News. "It was definitely pivoting back and forth, and then it looked like it put on the gas, went a little bit faster, then it went down and the engine cut out."

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.