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State suspends search for missing pilot

A 72-year-old Tonasket man remains missing after his plane never landed in Sequim as planned.

Edward Jeffko departed from the Tonasket Municipal Airport in north-central Washington the morning of June 23 and should have landed in Sequim a little over an hour later.

Jeffko is the father of James Jeffko and grandfather of Joe Jeffko, co-owners of the Fresh Mix Grill-Mart in Sequim.

Nisha Marvel, spokesman with the Washington State Department of Transportation’s aviation division, said officials suspended the search for Jeffko’s home-built aircraft July 29 after they exhausted resources with no new information.

Since June 23, crews searched areas in the North Cascades, Winthrop, Stevens Pass and Stampede Pass, and flew more than 200 hours, she said.

No emergency beacon was located to aid in the search and Jeffko did not have any radio communication while in the air, Marvel said.

“It’s a pretty large search area not knowing what route he took,” she said.

The WSDOT Aviation Emergency Services coordinated the search with help from the Civil Air Patrol and Washington Air Search and Rescue. The search was based at the Wenatchee Airport and the Department of Natural Resources, Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, Douglas County Fire and Red Cross also supported the mission.

“The official search with all the planes is suspended but we’re still hopeful and we still ask people to keep their eyes peeled or if they remember anything from last Monday to call the tip line,” James Jeffko said, later adding airplane pilots might be in a unique position to see something connected to the missing plane other people wouldn’t.

Marvel said if any new information comes up they will resume the search. The number for the tip line is 360-410-7757.

James Jeffko said after closing the Fresh Mix Grill-Mart all last week to help with the search, posting fliers all over central Washington, he and his son Joe Jeffko reopened the business on Tuesday.

While he and his family appreciate the support, prayer and positive comments from customers and community members,

Jeffko expressed that now is not the time for people to share airplane crash horror stories with him and his family.

Right now, they are just trying to get back into the swing of things.

“We still want to be here for the community because the community’s been here for us,” James Jeffko said.

Reach Amanda Winters at awinters@sequimgazette.com.
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