SHREVEPORT-BOSSIER, La — Caddo Parish Sheriff’s deputies are monitoring an area just north of the Shreveport Downtown Airport near where they believe a small engine plane crashed into the Red River.

The plane lost contact Thursday morning with the control tower shortly after leaving Shreveport Downtown Airport. Multiple agencies began an aggressive search for the plane.

Sheriff Steve Prator was confident by late Thursday afternoon that the location had  been pinpointed, saying, “We have some debris and some spoilage that has floated up. … We feel like that’s where the plane went down.”

By Thursday night, Bossier sheriff’s spokesman Bill Davis provided more details and said the Marine Unit used an electronic device to spot what appears to be the aircraft submerged in the Red River north of the Interstate 220 bridge and not far from the airport runway.

Federal authorities will be on the scene Friday morning.

Search efforts were focused most of Thursday afternoon in that area of the river after a private citizen saw fuel on top of the water.

The depth of the river is estimated to be about 25 feet there. Conditions were too dangerous and difficult to put divers down at that time, Prator said.

The search for the plane began after Caddo 911 received a call from the Shreveport Approach Tower to say that they had lost contact with a small passenger plane, perhaps a Piper Malibu Mirage. This type of aircraft is a single-engine plane and carries a pilot and as many as five passengers.

Davis said the pilot indicated that he was in distress just before they lost contact.

The plane was headed to Vernon, Texas. It’s uncertain how many people were on board.

Family and friends of the pilot were at the airport until nightfall while the search was underway.

Caddo and Bossier sheriff’s deputies began searching areas north of Shreveport and Bossier City. BPSO concentrated west of Interstate 220 near the Red River. Shortly after 2 p.m., they had two drones that were actively searching the area.

Bossier Sheriff’s Office Marine Patrol, along with deputies on foot, were involved in the search. Joining in were the Benton Fire Department and other agencies.