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West Seattle Helicopter Watch: What the chopper’s doing now

October 29, 2009 12:38 am
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 |   Helicopter | West Seattle news

helicopterwatch.pngMentioned it on Twitter but just got a phone call so better put a line here too: Guardian One – the King County helicopter that assists Seattle Police and other agencies when needed – is over Harbor Ave checking out a report of possible suspicious activity at a “boat yard,” per the original dispatch we heard on the scanner a little while ago.

Checking on the helicopter activity …

October 23, 2009 10:55 pm
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 |   Helicopter | West Seattle news

helicopterwatch.pngWe were away for the keyboard covering the West Seattle HS-Chief Sealth HS game (final: WSHS 26, Chief Sealth 8, details and video to come) and are just getting the reports about a helicopter over eastern West Seattle for a while. Seattle PD isn’t reporting anything significant on its media alerts, so we’re checking. It’s been quiet for a while till this crazy week but a reminder we haven’t issued for a while, if you see something notable and you don’t see news of it pop up here quickly, PLEASE call us – 206-293-6302 – that will reach us wherever we are and we can get on the case if we’re not already. All our other contact methods are here but the phone’s always the fastest and we answer 24/7. 2:52 AM NOTE: Haven’t dredged up anything yet. Been listening to the scanner the last few hours and nothing noteworthy lingering in West Seattle. In the WSB Forums, member “newcarissa” reported asking a police officer who said there’d been “a liquor-store robbery down the road” – if so, that would be White Center, and we’ll check with the Sheriff’s Office over the weekend too.

West Seattle gets buzzed: Military helicopters’ flyby

Thanks to Daniel for the photo from Sunrise Heights; we were in Morgan Junction when we spotted the four choppers approaching from the southwest (checking to see if our Flip video is worth using). It was a Washington Army National Guard flyby for the Mariners’ pregame, per TV. ADDED 6:23 PM: Here’s our (distant – Flip doesn’t zoom) video:

Update: Chopper was from TV, for the West Seattle HS game

helicopterwatch.pngORIGINAL 8:27 PM REPORT: Getting messages about the chopper over The Junction and beyond. We’re still checking to be sure but chances are it’s a news chopper for the West Seattle High School-O’Dea game at West Seattle Stadium. Will update with whatever else we find out. Co-publisher Patrick is at the game (tweeting it at @wsblive – halftime was O’Dea 18, West Seattle 7) but it’s impossible to tell from there – choppers have such strong cameras these days, they can shoot from very high. There’s nothing on 911 in terms of fire/medics which bolsters the theory, but we’re also checking with police. 8:33 PM UPDATE: Confirmed from a friend who works at KING5, it’s their chopper, covering the game. As our friend notes, their chopper will be out somewhere every Friday night – so on Fridays, if you hear a chopper before 9 pm or so, it just might be for football, but thanks again to everyone who checked in via e-mail, Facebook and Twitter – you just never know. 9:15 PM SIDE NOTE: Longer story to come, but the game just ended – O’Dea 39, WSHS 7.

Update: Helicopter mystery over The Junction solved!

helicopterwatch.pngChecking now to see if we can find out what it’s doing. Let us know if you’re seeing police on the ground anywhere. 9:46 PM UPDATE: This one might remain a mystery. Lt. Ron Smith at the Southwest Precinct says law enforcers don’t have anything going on that he or dispatch is aware of. As for news choppers, unless there’s a prescheduled evening event (like 4th of July fireworks), they’re usually in for the night long before dark. 9:55 PM UPDATE: Justin from Capitol Hill Seattle says via Twitter that a mystery chopper, not police, is buzzing THAT neighborhood right now. Hmm. 11:35 PM UPDATE: Lt. Smith says police have checked with FAA and learned that it’s a private company doing infrared photography. We may have more on this momentarily. ADDED 11:43 PM: Talked to the FAA. BCRA is the company that had permission for two flyover periods “around Seattle” tonight (the other one was before dark) – and the work apparently involves infrared photography regarding “air barriers”; found out a little more here. As the old saying goes, you learn something new every day. And night!

Update: Police/helicopter search ends with Highland Park arrest

helicopterwatch.pngORIGINAL 2:39 AM REPORT: The law-enforcement helicopter Guardian One is involved in a search in Highland Park right now, as are at least two K-9 units and other police — we know they’re looking for one suspect, but don’t know yet what it is that he’s being sought for — we’re monitoring via scanner, where it appears they’ve been discussing the Riverview Playfield area (map) as well. 2:49 AM UPDATE: “One in custody” is the report on the scanner, so the search is over. (The chopper led the ground crews right to the suspect with one of its specialized nighttime tracking capabilities.) 3:45 AM UPDATE: Southwest Precinct Lt. Ron Smith confirms this was related to the 1:32 am “motor vehicle accident” call on the 911 log at Highland Park Way/West Marginal Way (map) – he explains that before officers arrived, there was a report “a driver from an involved vehicle fled from the scene.” The “adult male” suspect who was subsequently arrested was booked, he says, for hit-and-run.

Followup: The reason for last night’s Alki police search

helicopterwatch.pngWe promised we’d let you know as soon as we found out what last night’s helicopter-over-Alki police search (original WSB coverage here) was all about – and Seattle Police media-unit Officer Mark Jamieson has just provided details: At 2:12 am, a call came in from the 3000 block of 59th SW, where somebody saw “two males” who “hopped a fence,” followed by the sound of something crashing. A few minutes later, Seattle Public Schools security answered an alarm at nearby Alki Elementary, and then came a report that the possible suspects were seen running westbound on Stevens (just west of the school). The helicopter was available, so it, and K-9 officers, joined the search. The suspects were described as 2 white males, around 16 years old, wearing dark clothing. Around 3:05 am, the search was called off; police went back to the school and found a broken window on the south side of the school, but it hasn’t been determined yet whether entry was actually made and whether anything was taken.

Updates: Police in helicopter, ground search on Alki

helicopterwatch.pngORIGINAL 2:47 AM REPORT: Heard Guardian One over our house a few minutes ago, heading north – and in fact, we’ve just received a few notes and a call that the chopper is searching over Alki, and that there’s a ground search too. Haven’t heard exactly what happened but “two white males that jumped (a) fence” are being sought, and the chopper has reported not seeing any hot spots “around the building.” The caller said she’s seeing the activity close to the Alki Tully’s. More as we get it. 2:55 AM: We should mention, for potentially a bit of reassurance, there have been no aid calls in the area, so nothing injurious related to this; we’d been listening to the scanner even before the first phone call of the chopper over Alki (plus several Twitter and Facebook reports too) and hadn’t heard anything dramatic. 3:05 AM: Sounds like Guardian One is “clearing out.” If we’re not able to get any details on the incident here in the wee hours, we’ll update – as always – whenever the details DO become available. 4:05 AM: **NOT** related that we know of, but if you’re still awake in the Alki area after all this, there’s now a fire engine responding to 62nd/Alki for a “rubbish fire” (as real-time 911 puts it). 12:19 PM UPDATE: Just got the details from SPD media officer Mark Jamieson: A break-in or attempted break-in at Alki Elementary. Will post all the details in a separate item in a few minutes. No arrests.

Helicopter watch: Two overnight police searches in West Seattle

helicopterwatch.pngSorry we didn’t have information while it was happening, but we now have messages out to police to ask what was up – literally and figuratively – with the helicopter search that several people have reported hearing over eastern West Seattle in the 2-3 am vicinity this morning. Will add information here as soon as we have it. 7:20 AM UPDATE: Just spoke with Officer Renee Witt in the Seattle Police media unit. She says two calls brought significant officer response to West Seattle early this morning, though it looks like the second call is the one that brought out the helicopter. First, there was a business burglary in the 6000 block of 35th SW; Officer Witt says a door was kicked in, a K-9 team joined the search, and the report indicates that some suspects were arrested. (We hope to get more on that later.) Second, there was a call from the same address involved in the SWAT team response weekend before last; the caller reported seeing a suspicious vehicle in the area. That’s what Officer Witt says brought out Guardian 1 – the King County Sheriff’s Office helicopter that is also used to assist Seattle Police when necessary – though ultimately police believe the call may have been false. No arrests in that one, though there was an aid response to the same vicinity around 5 am today – no word yet if it was related. 9:58 AM UPDATE: And we have MORE information now – directly from the Southwest Precinct. Just spoke with Sgt. Jeff Durden, who says that Guardian One WAS deployed for the aforementioned business burglary, and here are more details on that: The business hit around 2 am was the convenience store in the 6300 block of 35th. According to Sgt. Durden, “three to four males were seen kicking in the door … and throwing items out of it.” Responding officers set up containment, called in K-9 and the helicopter, and eventually two suspects were arrested, a 17-year-old boy and a 20-year-old man, and officers “recovered bags full of merchandise from the store.”

Update: West Seattle helicopter search, for a well-known suspect

helicopterwatch.pngThere’s a search under way right now northwest of Morgan Junction – we’re not entirely sure how it started, but it sounds like they are looking for a known burglary suspect, and vandalism involving a motorcycle is part of what’s been discussed on the scanner. A K-9 team is assisting in the search, and it sounds like the law-enforcement helicopter Guardian One is on its way. 12:05 AM UPDATE: We’re monitoring the scanner – no progress to report but as commenters note (and as we can hear in the distance), the helicopter has arrived in West Seattle to join the search. 12:39 AM UPDATE: As discussed in comments, the chopper has left. No indication if there’s been an arrest. We have a message out to police; if we don’t get official information in the next few hours (regarding the suspect status and the nature of whatever incident touched off the search), we’ll continue pursuing it later in the morning.

ADDED 8:45 AM WEDNESDAY: From Sgt. Jeff Durden at the Southwest Precinct:

Last night at 1125 pm, patrol officers attempted to stop a vehicle at California/Findlay driven by Skyelar Hailey and arrest him for his outstanding warrants. He ran from the vehicle which rolled into another car (parked) and then cutting through yards, knocked over a motorcycle damaging it. Despite K9 and Guardian One searches Skyelar escaped. The vehicle he was driving had three passengers who apparently drove away while officers were chasing Skyelar on foot. The parked vehicle was also gone.

We have reported on Skyelar Hailey, an 18-year-old with a long criminal record, here before – in fact, he is to be sentenced this Friday in a case we wrote about exactly one week ago. We were planning to be in court for that and will be checking on how this incident will affect that scheduled hearing.

Heads up: Helicopter over southeast West Seattle tomorrow

Since nothing fills our inbox as fast as a more-than-fleeting helicopter sighting over West Seattle, we wanted to take the chance to give you ADVANCE WARNING about helicopter activity that’s planned tomorrow and may be visible from southeast West Seattle and White Center/Top Hat. The announcement comes from the Seattle Fire Department, about training tomorrow at 9401 Myers Way S (map here; Google Street View image below):


View Larger Map

The Seattle Fire Department and Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office will conduct helicopter emergency operations training at the City of Seattle Joint Training Facility [9401 Myers Way S; map] on Wednesday, April 15. The drill will prepare both agencies to work together in the event of a regional disaster.

The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office UH-1H Bell “Huey” Helicopter is equipped with a rescue hoist, which will be used to practice lowering and raising teams of four firefighters onto and off of the roof of a training building. They will also test their skills at lowering equipment onto the roof. The techniques practiced in the drill will help prepare both agencies for special rescue operations including fires in high rise buildings, emergencies aboard ships or other hard-to reach locations and for delivering equipment and resources in the event of a major earthquake or other natural disaster.

Time frame, you ask? Early afternoon in particular, since the media’s been invited to photograph this around 1:30 tomorrow. P.S. Just heard on the Mariners broadcast that this Saturday is the Salute to Armed Forces, with pregame activity starting around 5:30 pm – a flyover is mentioned in the promotional blurbs, and those tend to have West Seattle in the flight path to Safeco – last year, we briefly caught the choppers on video.

From the WSB Forums: What that helicopter was up to

helicopterwatch.pngGot a few notes very early Sunday about the area’s law-enforcement helicopter, Guardian One, spending some time over the Delridge Triangle area. WSB Forum members launched a discussion and we have added a little more information this morning – the call started with King County Sheriff’s Deputies who say it involved a report of a “fight in progress” – here’s the entire WSBF thread, in case you haven’t already read it there.

West Seattle Crime Watch followup: Remember that helicopter?

helicopterwatch.pngLast Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, for the first time in a while, we covered one of those helicopter incidents – a law-enforcement chopper overhead a south West Seattle neighborhood for quite some time, leaving hundreds of people wondering “what’s going on?” Two hours after the first report, we finally got police information on what had happened – described at the time as a stolen-car case, with three arrests. Now we have the actual report from that incident, found in the latest stack of scanned reports we downloaded at the precinct tonight, so we wanted to share the details in case you’d been wondering:Read More

Helicopter search update: 3 arrested in car-theft case

helicopterwatch.pngORIGINAL 12:06 AM REPORT: Have received several notes about a helicopter circling in south West Seattle – and a report that it’s related to a King County Sheriff’s Office search in northwest Shorewood. Nothing obvious on the scanner yet but we’re checking. Reports so far have come from 35th and Roxbury, near Westwood Village, and Arbor Heights, so far. (Aside – when you hear a helicopter at this hour, it’s 90% likely it’s Guardian One, the law-enforcement helicopter that belongs to the county but also assists various city jurisdictions sometimes; TV-news helicopters do not fly at this hour unless it’s a gigantic story for which a pilot has been called in.) 12:16 AM: One comment from Arbor Heights mentions police on the ground in their neighborhood. 12:48 AM: Several neighbors report the helicopter has stopped. If we don’t succeed in getting official information tonight, we will seek it out first thing in the morning and publish an update soon as we get it. 2:10 AM UPDATE: Lt. Ron Smith at the Southwest Precinct provides the details: It involved a stolen car; three suspects were arrested after a search involving not only the King County Guardian One helicopter but also Seattle Police K-9, Seattle Police ACT team, and SPD patrol officers.

Yes, we saw them too – it’s for the Seahawks game

November 16, 2008 12:55 pm
|    Comments Off on Yes, we saw them too – it’s for the Seahawks game
 |   Helicopter | West Seattle news

helicopterwatch.pngAs your official West Seattle Helicopter News Source – we just wanted to mention we just saw the four helicopters go by too (west to east, just north of us in Upper Fauntleroy). It’s Military Appreciation Day at the Seahawks game; the team’s website says the Blackhawks and Chinooks are doing a Qwest Field flyover.

Update: Burglary suspects arrested in Admiral neighborhood

(photos by WSB contributing photojournalist Christopher Boffoli)
Thanks to everyone who’s e-mailed us with a tip about this – major police activity in the Belvidere/Admiral area (map). Police there tell us there’s a possible burglary suspect in a house there. More to come. P.S. That’s also why you are hearing/seeing helicopters – there’s at least one news chopper in the area. 11:43 AM UPDATE: This is breaking up now – two suspects have just been arrested. ADDED 12:28 PM: Here’s Christopher’s photo of one suspect – we are not showing his face because at this point, he is not formally charged (that would come later and be up to prosecutors):

Click ahead for one more photo PLUS a brief update on the Sunday morning burglary arrest in Fauntleroy (Southwest Precinct police have been busy!!!!):Read More

Helicopter watch: Burglary suspect sought, then arrested

helicopterwatch.pngIt’s pretty much right over our house in Upper Fauntleroy. Nothing on 911 in terms of medic call. Listening to the scanner to see if we can pick up anything about who they’re looking for and why – they’re focused on a house (where, we don’t know) where radio traffic indicates they are following footprints, plus a canine is involved in the search. 8400 block has been mentioned, on or near Tillicum (east of Lincoln Park; map). 12:43 AM UPDATE: Per scanner, it was a burglary, and there is a suspect now in custody. Helicopter has just moved on.

Another night, another helicopter …

(refresh for latest info, including updated comments)
helicopterwatch.pngJust like last night, we were out for a bit, got home, and suddenly there’s a helicopter – this one also sweeping around southwest West Seattle, Lincoln Park/South Beach Drive vicinity. We saw a few cruisers while we headed through that area a few minutes ago but nothing active except an empty car being checked out by an SPD cruiser with rollers, near the Lincoln Park 76. Listening to the scanner, of course, nothing obvious so far. 11:58 PM UPDATE: Comment from area resident says police told her/him it’s a search related to a robbery at Beach Drive/Lincoln Park Way. We saw two SPD units parked in that exact spot, no rollers though, while driving home at about 11:25 so this might match up. 12:06 PM UPDATE: From the scanner, report of suspect running southbound on beach from ferry terminal after jumping the wall. Helicopter (confirmed as Guardian One, operated by King County, but it assists Seattle Police, who don’t have a chopper) heading that way. 12:22 AM UPDATE: Heard from Lt. Ron Smith at Southwest Precinct: Search for “possible burglary suspects who fled southbound through Lincoln Park.”

Updates: Another Friday night edition of “mystery helicopter”

(scroll to end of this post for newest info)
helicopterwatch.pngJust got about half a dozen notes about a helicopter over Morgan Junction/Seaview/etc. We can hear it from WSB HQ in Upper Fauntleroy but can’t see anything. We’ve had some previous Friday night helicopter visits linked to high-school football but the reports so far say this one is using a spotlight to sweep for something. Scanner’s on, listening to see if we can pick up what it’s about, we’ll post if/when we find something out; if you see any obvious police search on the ground, please post a comment to help solve the mystery – thanks! 9:06 PM UPDATE: Just talked to the folks at the precinct, and it’s NOT a police call – they’re not on anything major – might be King County-related, but definitely not one of their cases. The info-quest continues … 9:17 PM UPDATE: Closer to our ‘hood and it looked like two choppers. Plus a knowledgeable source in e-mail says one is definitely King County’s “Guardian One” (Seattle doesn’t have its own police chopper so Guardian One works for multiple agencies). We left a message for the Coast Guard on the offhand chance it has anything to do with this. 9:25 PM UPDATE: Absent official information to this point, we’re going to head down toward L-Park (which is just down our hill) in hopes we might bump into someone on the ground who has actual info. Keep posting in the comments – if we don’t crack the case, you just might. (And as we typed that – an SPD cruiser just went past our house.) 9:30 PM UPDATE: OK, scratch that, whatever is going on, they’re zeroing in on “a house” somewhere and have just mentioned the helicopter on the scanner. No address heard, we’re going to stay here and keep listening. 10 PM UPDATE: KING 5 news says sheriff’s deputies were looking for a murder suspect in White Center, but they don’t have much info about the case – who was killed, when, where why. The suspect is reportedly in custody. That doesn’t entirely explain all the West Seattle searching unless it turns out (and we will be pursuing KCSO info too) that they were first looking here. 10:14 PM UPDATE: Actual information! Thanks to King County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. John Urquhart for calling back. He says a man “assaulted his girlfriend by cutting her” — not serious injuries — she went to the Texaco station at 16th and Roxbury to get help — he ran to a friend’s house — officers, with helicopter help, zeroed in on that house to arrest him — he is in custody. Sgt. Urquhart says there was a report the man MAY have had a homicide warrant from SOMEWHERE ELSE but he has not verified that so far. As for what all the helicopter action over West Seattle was about – he doesn’t believe it was related except that it may have been the chopper setting up and waiting to get the signal to move in and help with this arrest. 10:32 PM UPDATE: TV says the suspect is believed to have been linked to a Kent murder in July. 10:36 PM UPDATE: Sgt. Urquhart just called us again to confirm that information — the man arrested in White Center tonight was wanted in a summertime murder in Kent. 10:49 PM UPDATE: Also got a note back from Lt. Ron Smith at the Southwest Precinct, who says two of his officers did help KCSO handle calls in White Center for a short time because of this incident — Seattle Police are all clear of the WC incident now — and also adds one other detail, that the location was “11th SW just south of Roxbury.”

Why Holy Rosary was the safest place in West Seattle this morning

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Those photos show the lineup of law-enforcement vehicles — and law enforcers — on 42nd SW between Holy Rosary‘s church and school this morning, after a motorcade that kicked off a “Red Ribbon Week” drug-awareness rally; (added at 1:47 pm) here’s video of the motorcade’s arrival, as students stood on the curb to welcome the visitors:

The rally had a bigtime guest list, including Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske (media weren’t allowed to photograph students’ faces closeup, a fairly common rule for coverage of schools’ events, so that’s why you’re seeing the tops of heads here):

kerlikowske.jpg

Holy Rosary was chosen as the only school in Seattle to host this major event this year (there was one in Tacoma too) — and at the assembly that followed the show of force in the street (plus a helicopter landing on the playground), students heard from the widow of murdered DEA agent Enrique Camarena, the inspiration for “Red Ribbon Week.” This wasn’t your average “drugs are bad, don’t do them, see ya” rally – Mika Camarena spoke quietly and powerfully to ask the children to respect themselves and their health, as well as those in uniform. In the middle of the gym where she and others spoke was a bust of her late husband, which she acknowledged as she walked up:

Just before the indoor portion of the assembly began, this DEA chopper landed on the playground out back (who needs a helipad?):

The chopper and various law enforcers (including Duke the Seattle Police drug dog, shown below with his human partner) were on display as show-and-tell for Holy Rosary students after the assembly.

dukeandpartner.jpg

Today’s assembly was emceed by local TV reporter Jim Dever, who lives in West Seattle. As part of Red Ribbon Week, by the way, Holy Rosary students have made artwork that’s on display at Jefferson Square Safeway; you can see samples on the school’s home page (scroll down).

Friday night miscellany: Mystery helicopter, “pushy” solicitors …

MYSTERY HELICOPTER: Received more than a few notes about this earlier this evening (thank you!) but couldn’t find anything obvious via scanner or in person. Anybody who can solve the mystery of what a chopper was doing over eastern West Seattle – Triangle, Fairmount, possibly Pigeon Point – in the 7 pm hour, please share. (10:16 pm: Nancy e-mails to say that from past experience, it might have been a chopper covering sports at WS Stadium; not WSHS football since they were at Ingraham — 33 to 6 win for the Wildcats, by the way, congrats, and they’re in Game of the Week running for next week! – but schedules reveal Seattle Prep played O’Dea tonight at WS Stadium.)

DOOR-TO-DOOR ALERT: This quick note from Todd in the California/Charlestown (map) area:

Just a note to alert the area that those pushy magazine salespeople (who ignore or can’t read ‘no soliciting’ signs) are at work on the Admiral / Gen. Hill line.

ONE MORE NOTE: Just got word from Carol Viger that the West Seattle High School Grad Night fundraiser car wash planned for tomorrow is off. We’ll let you know when it’s rescheduled.

Update: Boaters hurt in collision off Alki Point

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(top photo shows damaged sailboat, with Coast Guard boat nearby)

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Thanks to the tipster who called with word of this – All that activity in the water off Alki Point is because of what the Coast Guard says was a collision between a sailboat and a power boat. Three people are reported to have minor injuries. The Coast Guard has a 41-foot vessel involved in the rescue, and says the Seattle Fire Department is involved too. Helicopters (including TV-news choppers) are also in the area. 3:34 PM UPDATE: The fire boat is reportedly bringing the injured people to Don Armeni – we’ve got a crew there and just confirmed with SFD that the fire boat’s heading that way, to meet up with an engine that just pulled up. 3:49 PM UPDATE: The injured boaters have now arrived at Don Armeni, where fire, medics, and TV crews are all gathered too. We just added two cameraphone photos from the Don Armeni arrival – looks like it was actually one of the smaller Coast Guard boats involved in bringing them in. More as we get it. 4:10 PM UPDATE: We’re south of Alki Point now, and what looks to be the sailboat involved in this (TV news choppers hovering over it are a giveaway) is closer to the Emma Schmitz-vicinity Beach Drive shoreline and coming close to shore – we’re heading that way. 4:36 PM UPDATE: We’re still at Emma Schmitz, where Coast Guard boats have been up next to the sailboat that we believe to be the one that was involved (hard to tell for sure because two are out there):

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The TV news choppers continue to hover, so if you’re in front of a TV you may have seen more from their megazoom aerial cameras. Meantime, back at Don Armeni, an SFD briefing confirms the three people who were hurt will all be OK – two with leg injuries, one with head and neck lacerations. A fourth person was brought ashore but is not hurt. 4:47 PM UPDATE: The sailboat has moved further away from where we are – it’s southwest of Emma Schmitz, probably more directly west of Lowman Beach, but out in the middle of the sound. 5:01 PM UPDATE: Looks like the damaged sailboat is now heading slowly north, and will be passing by here (Emma Schmitz still) before too long, it’s got a boat ahead of it and one behind, escorting it. 5:26 PM: We’re watching now from Constellation Park, just south of Alki Point – it’s closer in as it approaches this part of the shore, with a smaller Coast Guard boat right alongside. Definitely a sizable yacht; haven’t seen anything yet about its name or ownership (let us know if you have, and by the way, THANKS AGAIN to everyone who called, texted, etc., as this unfolded – once you let us know, then we can get busy helping find out what’s up so everybody else knows too! call, text, e-mail 24/7 – all the options are here). 5:48 PM UPDATE: The sailboat and its entourage are starting to pass Alki right now, heading east (we’re watching now from just west of 64th) — spoke too soon, now it’s pointed north, perpendicular to the beach, still offshore at 64th … then headed northward, where we’re ending our surveillance. Here’s video we got earlier, just after the injured boaters were brought to Don Armeni:

8:18 PM UPDATE: The Coast Guard has issued a news release identifying the sailboat involved in the collision as the chartered 70-footer Neptune’s Car; the other sailboat we saw was the Obsession, out picking up some of the passengers who were still on Neptune’s Car after the original rescue. Here’s the full text of the USCG release:

The Coast Guard, Seattle Fire and Police responded to a vessel collision one mile off of Alki Point, here, where a 22-foot runabout and a 70-foot charter sailboat, Neptune’s Car, collided Monday.

At 3:03 p.m., Coast Guard Sector Seattle received a call on VHF channel 16 reporting the collision had occurred.

Station Seattle launched a 41-foot rescue boat crew.

Two passengers aboard the Neptune’s Car and the operator of the runabout were transferred to the Don Armeni ramp in West Seattle to a waiting emegergency medical crew.

The remaining 13 passengers and two crew members aboard the Neptune’s Car have been removed from the vessel, transferred to the sailing vessel Obsession and are returning to Pier 54, here.

The Neptune’s Car was taking on water from a large hole on the forward port side but the flooding was stopped by rescuers. The Neptune’s Car was able to move under its own power and is returning to CSR Marine escorted by a Coast Guard small boat.

ADDED LATE MONDAY NIGHT: Here’s a short video clip of Neptune’s Car while it was still off Beach Drive shoreline, the gash plainly in view.

Mystery helicopter this morning – still a mystery

More than a few e-mails this morning asking about a helicopter flying around northeastern West Seattle around 5:30 am – checked with Sgt. Jeff Durden at Southwest Precinct and it doesn’t seem to have been associated with police activity. We’ll see if we can find out anything from aviation-related sources.