Former Hudson’s Bay swim champ Dawson dies in plane crash

By

Published:

 
photoSeth Dawson, 2001 photo

A former champion swimmer from Hudson’s Bay High School has been identified as one of the victims of a plane crash Wednesday.

Seth Dawson, 31, was identified Thursday by relatives as one of three people killed in the crash near North Bend, according to The Seattle Times. He was the swimming coach at Kentlake High School.

In 1998, Dawson won the Class 4A state title in the 200-meter freestyle event. The next year, he won titles in the 100 and 200 freestyle events.

In 2004, while at Cal State Bakersfield, he finished second in the NCAA Division II 200 individual medley and third in the 200 freestyle. He also was a part of three relay teams that won national titles and helped the Roadrunners to the team championship.

Rob Marshall Hill was identified as the pilot who was killed in the crash. He was a swim coach at Decatur High School, where he had graduated in 1999, and also coached the Valley Aquatics Swim Team in South King County.

Hill was a pilot and a private flight instructor, according to his sister, Becca Goode of Federal Way.

The identity of the third crash victim, Liz Redling, 29, of Federal Way, was confirmed by a woman who answered the phone at her house, but she declined to speak further.

The King County Medical Examiner’s Office had not officially released the names of the crash victims as of Thursday afternoon. A candlelight vigil for the victims will be held at Decatur High School at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

The probe into the cause of Wednesday’s crash will focus on the weather, the pilot’s background, and the aircraft’s maintenance, investigators said.

According to Mike Fergus, spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration, preliminary information indicates the crash occurred between 1:30 a.m. and 2 a.m.

Cindi West, spokeswoman for the King County Sheriff’s Office, said two deputies on patrol heard an explosion and began searching for the wreckage. Neighbors also reported hearing a “sputter, pop and an explosion,” she said.

“I heard it crash into a sheer cliff, and indeed that’s what’s up there,” North Bend resident Terry Jensen told KING-TV. “It’s a tragedy.”

An emergency transmitter was either activated on impact or by someone in the single-engine Cessna, said Tom Peterson, aviation emergency-services coordinator for the state Department of Transportation. While the sheriff’s helicopter followed the signal to the crash site, searchers using night-vision goggles spotted aircraft debris hanging from broken tree branches, Deputy Ken O’Neal said.

Ground searchers reached the crash site at daylight and found the bodies of the victims, West said.

One of the bodies was carried by a search-and-rescue team more than a mile through rugged terrain, according to the Sheriff’s Office. The other two victims were airlifted by helicopter to a medical examiner’s van near North Bend.

Little was immediately known about the plane’s itinerary, according to Fergus. He said the pilot had not been in contact with air traffic control.

Nighttime flying under visual rules without contacting air traffic control is permitted and not unusual, said National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator Wayne Pollack.