U.S. Coast Guard aircraft have joined the growing search in Baja California, Mexico, for the missing single-engine airplane carrying former Tracy residents Gary and Peggy Toste Thomas.
In addition to the U.S. units, Mexico Navy helicopters also have been deployed to search the waters on both sides of the Baja Peninsula, reported Joe Toste, father of Peggy Toste Thomas.
“Congressman (Richard) Pombo’s office has been in touch with U.S. and Mexican authorities about the use of U.S. Coast Guard units,” he said. “The U.S. units could not take part in the search in the Gulf of California until formally requested by the Mexican government. That, apparently, has occurred.”
The Thomases, who moved from Tracy to Escalon two years ago, have been missing since Oct. 23, when their Bonanza plane took off from the La Paz airport during Hurricane Paul.
Peggy Thomas, 45, had called her father in Tracy that day saying she and her husband, Gary, 52, had refueled at La Paz and had planned to wait out the storm for two days. Toste said the plane, after taking off originally from the an airstrip near the Thomas’ vacation home in Mulege farther north on the Baja Peninsula, had turned back in the face of a hurricane to return to La Paz, and not Cabo San Lucas, as reported earlier. Instead of remaining at La Paz, however, the plane took off and headed north and has not been seen since.
After no word had been received by Oct. 26, Toste notified friends at Mulege and the U.S. Consulate in Tijuana that the plane was missing.
“Four pilots who are members of Baja Bush Pilots have been searching every day for the plane, but so far they haven’t come up with anything,” he said. “The pilots have been flying six hours a day, crisscrossing the Baja Peninsula.”
One of the pilots detected a downed-aircraft radio signal, but it was coming from a plane that had landed at an airstrip.