The wreckage of a single-engine plane that crashed into the ocean around two miles off the coast of Campus Point on Sept. 27 and the remains of its pilot, 61-year old Deborah Nicolson, were recovered by authorities on Thursday afternoon. 

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Special Enforcement Bureau’s Dive operations team found the wreckage using specialized equipment that can operate over 200 feet underwater. Courtesy of Raquel Zick 

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Special Enforcement Bureau’s Dive operations team found the wreckage using specialized equipment that can operate over 200 feet underwater and removed the wreckage from the water with an underwater vessel, Noozhawk reported. 

The body of the pilot has been taken to the Channel Islands Harbor, and the Santa Barbara County Coroner’s Bureau will be investigating the death, according to Raquel Zick, public information officer for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department

Nicolson, a Lake Tahoe native, was en route to the Truckee airport in Lake Tahoe before her single-engine Cessna 182 crashed into the ocean about two miles from Campus Point shortly after taking off from the Santa Barbara Airport around 7 a.m on Sept. 27. 

Nicolson was an attorney for over 30 years and most recently practiced law in Tahoe City, according to the Tahoe Daily Tribune. 

On Sept. 27, a witness reported seeing the plane rapidly lose altitude after taking off from the Santa Barbara Airport, the Los Angeles Times reported. Other witnesses reported seeing a “large splash” off the coast before search-and-rescue personnel were deployed.

Santa Barbara County Fire Department spokesperson Mike Eliason said rescue personnel spotted several areas in the ocean with debris and oil sheen immediately after the plane crash, including one that smelled like aircraft fuel. 

The National Transportation Safety Board is currently investigating the cause of the crash and analyzing the wreckage, Noozhawk reported. 

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Holly Rusch
Holly Rusch is an asst. news editor for the Daily Nexus. She can be reached at news@dailynexus.com or hollyrusch@dailynexus.com.