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Search to resume for Santa Rosa couple missing in Petaluma-bound plane


Air crews are expected to resume their search Thursday, weather permitting, for a Santa Rosa couple flying a single engine private plane that went missing Monday evening on the way from Truckee to the Petaluma airport.

Brenda Richard, the pilot, and her husband, Mark Richard, have not been heard from since the single engine Socata TB-20 Trinidad plane failed to arrive at the Petaluma Municipal Airport. The Richards took off from Truckee-Tahoe Airport about 4 p.m., according to the Sierra County Sheriff’s Office.

A search for the plane and the couple began Tuesday and continued Wednesday, with ground and air crews focusing on a mountainous region 18 miles northwest of Truckee, a Civil Air Patrol spokeswoman said.

Landmarks in the area include Yuba Pass Road between Webber Lake and Jackson Meadows, in eastern Sierra County, according to the sheriff’s office.

The Richards have four daughters, Lauren, Madeline, Ashley and Danielle, and a new grandchild, according to neighbors in Santa Rosa.

Don and Ann Jereb, who live next door to the Richards, described the missing couple as “wonderful and friendly” and “devoted to their children and their granddaughter.”

“We know them as lovely neighbors, very kind, very sweet, a lovely family,” Don Jereb said.

Jereb said Brenda Richard had gotten into flying several years ago and “was out flying quite a bit.” Tom Torgeson, another neighbor, echoed the Jerebs’ sentiments.

“They’re just really nice, really friendly,” he said.

Torgeson said he’d been in touch with a friend who knows the Richards and the plane’s co-owner, Bill Sherlock. The friend, he said, was in contact with Sherlock on Tuesday and described Brenda Richard, 53, as a good pilot who “knows mountain flying.”

Sherlock could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

The plane, with a tail number of N28070, was expected to land at the Petaluma Municipal Airport on Monday evening.

A search began after family members reported it had not arrived. A Civil Air Patrol single-engine Cessna and a CHP helicopter assisted Tuesday along with ground crews, but inclement weather hampered early morning flights.

Civil Air Patrol Lt. Col. Crystal Housman described Wednesday’s search efforts as ongoing.

“We have planes in the air, favorable weather, and dedicated volunteers looking for this aircraft,” she said.

The four-seat, low-wing plane is blue and white with gold trim and equipped with an emergency locater transmitter. However, crews have yet to pick up its signal, Housman said. The Civil Air Patrol launched four air crews Wednesday morning for visual and photographic searches of the area in the Sierra Nevada mountain range. A Cessna Turbo 206H and three CAP Cessna 182 search planes were used in Wednesday’s search, and the search continued throughout the day.

“We are integrating seamlessly with our local search partners, which is important given the terrain, flight environment, and congested airspace around a concentrated search area with as many as three aircraft searching at the same time,” Civil Air Patrol Capt. Charles Christian said in a statement.

The U.S. Air Force rescue coordination center at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida activated the Civil Air Patrol for the search shortly after midnight Tuesday.

Anne Kallus of Truckee said Wednesday she may have seen the Richards at the Truckee airport Monday afternoon, just before the couple decided to take off. Kallus, who does marketing for a startup business, often works remotely at the airport because it’s close to her son’s preschool. She said she was sitting in the corner of the airport’s lounge and the couple were sitting at a table, near an airport cafe called the Red Truck.

Kallus said she could hear the couple discuss their concerns about the weather. She said she took notice of the couple because it appeared the woman was the pilot.

“They seemed to be very focused on the weather,” said Kallus. “It was overcast, I don’t know that it was raining actively at that point... It looked like it could rain any minute, but it wasn’t a snow situation.”

Kallus said the couple was there when she arrived at the cafe at about 1:40 p.m. and left the cafe area sometime between 3 and a little after 4 p.m. Kallus, who made it clear she was not sure if it was the Richards she overheard near the cafe, said she called the Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday and gave a statement.

Staff Writer Martin Espinoza contributed reporting. You can reach Staff Writer Paul Payne at 707-568-5312 or paul.payne@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @ppayne. Staff Writer Christi Warren is at 707-521-5205 or christi.warren@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @SeaWarren.