COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho — All eight people killed in a crash involving two planes over Lake Coeur d'Alene have been identified by authorities. Their loved ones have spoken out about their character and what it's been like to lose someone so suddenly.
All of the victims have been recovered since the planes collided and crashed into Lake Coeur d'Alene on Sunday, July 5, according to the Kootenai County Sheriff's Office.
A float plane operated by Brooks Seaplane, a company stationed at the Independence Point dock that offers scenic flight tours of Lake Coeur d'Alene, was one of the two planes involved.
The sea plane was recovered from the bottom of Lake Coeur d'Alene on Friday, according to the Kootenai County Sheriff's Office.
The investigation into the cause of the collision is being conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board.
On Friday afternoon, KCSO said crews were able to recover most of the sea plane, but there are some parts that the National Transportation Safety Board would like to see recovered. These include the wings of the Cessna and the pontoons of the sea plane.
At this time, it is unknown when recovery efforts will continue. The boat launch and docks at Loff’s Bay are now open to the public, but they may need to be closed again when recovery operations resume.
Passengers on the float plane included three children, two adults and one pilot, according to KCSO Lt. Ryan Higgins. Four of the five passengers were related, while one was not.
Here's what we know about the victims so far.
Final crash victim identified as California man
David E. Sorenson, a 57-year-old man from Clayton, California, was on the float plane with its pilot, 48-year-old Oregon man Sean Frederickson and his son, and Frederickson's stepchildren, the Kootenai County Sheriff's Office announced on Monday, July 13.
A photo of Sorensen has not yet been released.
Cessna victims identified by family, authorities
One of the planes involved in the crash was a Cessna from Lewiston but flew out of Felts Field in Spokane. It was carrying two people.
Family members and authorities have identified the passengers as 66-year-old Jay Cawley of Lewiston and 61-year-old Kelly Kreeger of Auburn, California.
ABC10 in Sacramento, California, reports that Kreeger was an aviation enthusiast known for her work in the community and with WWII U.S. Army Air Forces ace Bud Anderson, 98. Kreeger launched and was president of the veteran's "super fan club" which attracted many young people to learn about veterans and the history of World War II.
"She was very cheerful and very positive," Anderson said.
The two became close friends after meeting after meeting at an air show six years ago, and Kreeger later traveled with Anderson to others in Wisconsin, Texas and Hawaii.
Since learning of Kreeger's death, her family has been overwhelmed with messages on social media, Kreeger's sister Sandy Inman said. They are asking for prayers.
Jay Cawley's daughter, Jessica, posted about his death on Facebook writing:
"I so badly wish you were still here. You were a great Dad. You taught me to ride a bicycle, to fly, to keep going when times got tough, to eat breakfast lunch and dinner, to solve problems, to help out strangers in need, and how to reach out and be a good listener. You always had such high standards for us all to live up to and I love and miss you so much."
Gary Peters has been friends with Cawley for 25 years. They met through their shared love of flying.
"Jay's been flying his entire life, it's the only job he's ever had," Peters said. "He's probably the best Cessna, the best anything pilot I know, to be honest with you."
The two were affiliated with Hangar180, a Lewiston-based aviation group and museum. The friends had a particular passion for World War-era aircraft.
"[Jay] was so responsible for keeping aviation and history alive," Peters said.
Sean Frederickson and his son, stepchildren
Bryan Fisher, who serves as general manager of Oswego Lake Country Club in Lake Oswego, Oregon, spoke about the loss of 48-year-old Sean Frederickson and his three children. Two of the children, Sofie and Quinn, were Sean's stepchildren, while one was his son, the family confirmed.
“The loss of Sean Fredrickson and his children Hayden, Sofie and Quinn is devastating," Fisher wrote in a statement. "Sean was an exceptional Golf Professional who was awarded the PGA Professional of the Year honor in 2019 by the Pacific Northwest Section PGA. Oswego Lake Country Club was honored to have him as a member of our family. His positive spirit and joy for the game of golf was contagious."
"But more importantly, Sean was a tremendous husband, father and friend. Our love and heartfelt sympathy goes to his wife April, his family and friends during this time of loss," the statement continues.
Frederickson served as president of the Pacific Northwest PGA Section, along with his work at Oswego Lake Country Club this year and Tualatin Country Club whom for 14 years.
In a statement, PGA asked people to hold him and his family in their hearts through quiet reflection or prayer.
"A rising star in the PGA, Sean led the Section through an unprecedented time, first taking the reins a year early as President and then leading us wisely through this pandemic. We are all better because of Sean’s leadership over the past twelve years," the statement reads in part.
"As you remember Sean, reflect on the enthusiasm, the integrity, the passion and the love we saw in him every day. We will miss you, our friend," the statement continues.
April Upchurch, Frederickson's wife and mother of the three children, told KREM that her family was "taken too soon in an unimaginable way." She asked people to keep her family in their prayers and not to waste a single minute with their loved ones.
A full statement from April Upchurch is as follows:
"Many of you know that I lost my husband and beautiful children in a plane wreck over Lake Coeur d ‘Alene yesterday. I am reeling from the loss, but take solace in the fact that they were on an adventure and so excited for their first sea plane ride.
Thank you for all of the love and support. It truly does help. I know that they each touched many lives and that our entire LO and Tualatin community will be grieving. Please know that we had a wonderful family weekend and an opportunity to spend time together. Thank you for keeping me in your prayers."
Brian Olsen, father to Sofie and Quinn, called the deaths of his children "devastating."
In a statement, Brian Olsen said Sofie competed on the Lake Oswego High School Lacrosse Team. She looked forward to entering into her junior year of high school in the fall, he said.
"Sofie is a golden spirit and kept me striving to be better parent. The desire to impress her kept me motivated in life. Her enthusiasm is a wonderful way to go about day to day life," Brian Olsen said in part.
Quinn looked up to his big sister Sofie, and enjoyed attending Portland Trailblazers games and riding bikes with his dad, along with playing video games. He recently received a specialized mountain bike for his eleventh birthday in June, Brian Olsen said.
"We embraced the time spent together on family holidays and recently during COVID-19 shelter in place. My children constantly remind me of all the experiences to cherish in our world this day and everyday. Great times and the tragic. With love to our kiddos. Miss you," Olsen added.
PHOTOS: Lake Coeur d'Alene plane crash victims
Courtney Cooper, stepmom to Sofie and Quinn, said the two children were "such an integral part of our large, complicated blended family." She added that their stepbrothers and sisters, London, Madison and Kayla, were some of their best friends.
"They are irreplaceable and I loved having the honor of being able to be their step mom for most of their lives. We love them very much and have a very large hole in our hearts," Cooper wrote in part.
“Sending love to their mom, April, dad Brian, and their devoted grandparents. This was a freak accident and it’s truly surreal to see part of your family in a headline on national news. We knew all five passengers on that seaplane. Two were a piece of my heart," Cooper's statement continues. "It’s feeling very real today. And unbelievable. Two of the brightest lights in our world. We are broken.”
Seaplane pilot identified as 58-year-old Neil Lunt
The Kootenai County Sheriff's Office has identified the pilot of the Brooks Seaplane as 58-year-old Neil Lunt of Liberty Lake.
Lunt was the owner of Brooks Seaplane and was flying one of the company planes during the crash. The company posted a statement from his family on his death Friday afternoon saying:
"It is with heavy hearts that we write this. On July 5th there was an air accident involving one of the planes from Brooks Seaplane. Unfortunately everyone on board our aircraft and the other aircraft did not survive the incident. Our family sends our prayers and deepest condolences to those who lost their loved ones. Our family lost a great man. A father, a husband, an all round family man and a friend to everyone he came into contact with. We will miss him greatly. The community response of positive comments and experiences with Neil has been overwhelming and heartwarming. To everyone who has reached out, we thank you. As we navigate through this tough time we ask that our family’s privacy, and the privacy of everyone else involved is respected.
It brings a smile to all of our faces hearing the wonderful stories about Neil. Once again, to all those who have supported us and continue to do so, we are unbelievably grateful."
According to local reports, Lunt bought the business in 2018. Brooks had been in the Coeur d'Alene area for decades, becoming a staple on the Independence Point dock.
Local tourism leaders tell KREM 2 the Lunt family was good to work with. When travel writers came to Coeur d'Alene to highlight the area, Brooks Seaplane didn't hesitate to give them the best view of North Idaho.
"They were gracious enough to take us up in the planes and show the writers the area. They're just gracious people," said Mark Robitaille with the Coeur d'Alene Convention and Visitors Bureau.
FAA records show that Lunt was a certified airline transport pilot as well as a flight instructor. He was rated to fly different kinds of planes, both on land and sea.
Others who knew Lunt said he flew commercially for SkyWest Airlines.
One former colleague wrote, "I lost an old friend and colleague over the weekend living his dream...He was probably the funniest guy I have ever known."
Lunt is survived by children of his own. His son Noah worked with him as a manager for Brooks Seaplane.
A memorial is in place at the float plane's stall with flowers left for the victims and a book for people to share their favorite memories of Brooks Seaplane or those who lost their lives.
KGW and KREM staff members contributed to this report.