Second body found off Brookings coast

Update (07/25 1:40 p.m.) — The two bodies recovered from the airplane crash near Brookings have been positively identified by police as John and Max Belnap. The Josephine County Sheriff’s Officers said dive crews will continue to search for Ryan Merker as weather allows.


Update (07/22 11:45 p.m.) — Curry County Sheriff John Ward said a second body was located Friday morning roughly 30 feet from the first body.

Authorities have not yet released the identities of the bodies recovered.


Brookings, Ore. — “For a week I spent time on the beach everyday, searching, looking for clues,” reflects cross country coach Sam Goodell.

That search is finally over for him and numerous law enforcement agencies.

After more than two weeks on the water, the plane that crashed into the Pacific ocean on July fourth has been found.

“Anything that I could find that would help to bring some closure in the recovery of these young men.”

Goodell coached Ryan Merker and Max Belnap in cross country at Grants Pass High School.

The two 17-year-olds were aboard a plane with Max’s father John — who was piloting the aircraft. It crashed into the ocean just north of Brookings for an unknown reason, presumably killing all three.

On Thursday, one body was located along with the wreckage.

Curry County Sheriff John Ward says a positive id has not yet been made, “Once we had him on board, they went back down, searched around, was not able to find any other body down there at this point, not saying they’re not down there, just saying they didn’t locate them.”

Weather permitting, the search will continue on Friday.

For now — their efforts are bringing the beginning stages of healing for two families and an entire community.

“That was all that it was about, the family, the community that needed closure on this,” says Sheriff Ward. “Like I said from the start, I ‘m not going to give up until we find some closure on this.”

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