Coast Guard Ends Search for Plane Missing in Lake Erie

Captain Michael Mullen, chief of response for the Coast Guard 9th District announced on Saturday, Dec. 31, 2016 that the search-and-rescue efforts to find the small plane that went missing over Lake Erie on Thursday night have been suspended.

Update 1/1/2017: With Better Weather, Search and Recovery for Missing Plane Begins

In announcing the decision to call off the search Mullen said:

“The decision to suspend a search is never easy. I extend my deepest condolences to the family and friends of those who lost loved ones during this tragedy.”

A dive team has been assembled to help in what now has become a recovery effort.

While authorities have yet to officially announce the identities of the six people onboard the Cessna Citation 525 plane that took off from Burke Lakefront Airport about 11 p.m. EST on Thursday, the father of the licensed owner and pilot of the plane said that his son, John T. Fleming, Fleming’s wife, their two teenage sons, a neighbor and the neighbor’s daughter were the occupants of the missing plane.

Both the U.S. Coast Guard and the Royal Canadian Air Force participated in the search and rescue efforts that began late Thursday night/early Friday morning after authorities at Air Traffic Control Services requested assistance from the Coast Guard in locating Fleming’s plane. It was only minutes after takeoff from Burke that the plane vanished from radar with no distress signal from the pilot of the plane.

Authorities determined the missing plane likely vanished when it was about two miles over Lake Erie, in an area of water about 50 feet deep.

Related Reading: Search Ongoing for Private Plane Missing Over Lake Erie

Early search efforts were hampered first by darkness and a combination of snow squalls and waters deeper than usual, with winds and high water an issue in the daylight on Friday. Even so, the search for the missing plane and its occupants, executed by air and water, covered 128 miles of Lake Erie with no debris found. A weakened signal from the plane’s emergency locating transmitter was detected but was not strong enough to aid search crews in their efforts.s

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