Anchorage, Alaska (AP) - The U.S. Coast Guard suspended its search Thursday for an air ambulance that went missing earlier in the week in Alaska with three people onboard.
"This was an extensive search effort in some very challenging conditions," said Coast Guard Capt. Stephen White in a statement Thursday night. "Suspending a search for any reason is one of the most difficult decisions we have to make."
The twin-engine plane took off from Anchorage on Tuesday and was expected to land in the tiny community of Kake to pick up a patient but never arrived.
On Wednesday, an aircraft wing part and other debris were found in the search area.
The Coast Guard said it had not confirmed that the debris is from the twin-engine King Air 200. However, officials of Guardian Flight, the medical flight company that owns the plane, said Thursday that they are resigned to accepting the wreckage is from the aircraft.
The debris was found about 22 miles (35 kilometers) west of Kake near the plane's last known position.
Guardian Flight said those on board the missing plane are the pilot, 63-year-old Patrick Coyle, the flight nurse, 30-year-old Stacie Rae Morse, and the flight paramedic, 43-year-old Margaret Langston. The company earlier said Langston's last name was Allen, but Lyman said Thursday she was recently married and her last name is now Langston.
The company said all are based in Juneau.
"We continue to ask for everyone's prayers and support as we focus on families, crew members and the entire Guardian Flight team and extended family of all those involved," Randy Lyman, a company vice president, said in a statement.