A woman has been killed and the founder of an East Palo Alto steel company is feared dead in a plane crash in Redwood Shores this afternoon. An employee at R.E. Borrmann's Steel Co. said it is believed that company's founder, Bob Borrmann, was on the plane when it went down.
The crash was reported at about 11:50 a.m. in a lagoon just north of Twin Dolphin Drive, fire Battalion Chief Dave Pucci said. The plane had taken off from the nearby San Carlos Airport and was headed to San Martin, Pucci said. FAA spokesman Lynn Lunsford said the plane, a twin-engine Beech 65 Queen Air, crashed into the water about 30 seconds after taking off.
The article on the steel company's website says Borrmann bought a Beech Queen Air that once belonged to the King of Denmark.
Firefighters responded and found an approximately 40-year-old woman in the water near the wreckage. She was taken to shore and pronounced dead, Pucci said. Authorities are also searching for at least one other person after receiving unconfirmed reports from the San Carlos Airport that more than one person had boarded the plane, Pucci said. Firefighters did not find anyone in the plane's interior, but "the lagoon is really murky" and the second victim may be in the water somewhere, Pucci said.
A dive team from the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office arrived at the scene shortly before 1 p.m. to search the waters, he said. Steve Hornstra, owner of Steve's Cafe and Catering on Twin Dolphin Drive, said he was returning from a delivery run to nearby office buildings when he heard a loud airplane engine.
"I looked up because this plane was maybe three or four times louder than normal," he said. "It was a bigger plane. It wasn't one of those two-seaters," Hornstra added.
Hornstra said the aircraft wasn't sputtering or smoking but looked like it was "struggling to get elevation." It veered to the left then the right, he said.
"Then it just kind of took a nose dive, and kind of made a half turn," Hornstra said.
The plane disappeared from view behind some buildings and Hornstra said he heard a thud. Joanna Lubas was sitting at her desk at an office building at 303 Twin Dolphin Drive when she saw the plane hit the water. She left the office and headed toward the crash site in the diamond-shaped lagoon, which is lined by office parks and a number of homes.
"When I first got here there were people, I think from these houses, getting into the water," Lubas said.
Rod Cardinale, a paralegal at Grathwohl, Rauch and Cohen on the nearby Marine Parkway, went outside to see what was happening after hearing a "boom" sound.
"I just saw the airplane in the water upside-down with one of the wings sticking out of the water," he said.
Cardinale said several boaters made their way over to the plane and some dove into the water to try to help the occupants. As of about 1:15 p.m., the plane was nearly fully submerged in the lagoon. A wing was visible under the water. A sheriff's rescue boat was headed toward the aircraft.
What appeared to be seats from the airplane were floating nearby.
Bob Wood, a flight instructor at Diamond Aviation, said he had seen the plane depart from the San Carlos Airport.
"I really enjoyed watching the plane take off -- it sounds like an airplane used to sound like, really throaty," Wood said.
"So when I heard it went down it was very, very shocking," he said. "It was a normal takeoff with normal altitude."