Debris Recovered from Missing Plane Verified as Human Remains

Debris recovered on Friday, Jan.6, 2017, from the search site of the missing plane and its occupants that disappeared on December 29, 2016 have been verified to be human remains, and that of a man, according to the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s office on Tuesday, January 10.

To date, more than 170 pieces of debris have been recovered from Lake Erie in the multi-agency search-and-recovery efforts for the Cessna 252 Citation plane carrying pilot, John T. Fleming, CEO of the Superior Beverage Group, his wife Suzanne, their two teenage sons, Andrew and Jack, and neighbor Brian Casey and his daughter Megan Casey, all residents of Dublin, Ohio. Among the items recovered so far have been a portion of the plane’s fuselage, the tail section and the cockpit voice recorder.

On Thursday, January 5, thanks to the underwater locator beacon provided by the National Transportation Safety Board and used onboard the ship, Muskie, belonging to the United States Geological Survey, the search area was narrowed from a four-mile by two-mile area to an area the approximate size of a football field. It was on Thursday that the successful recovery of the cockpit voice recorder was made, which has subsequently been sent to Washington, D.C. where the NTSB is performing its analysis.

On Friday, January 6, search-and-recovery teams found a number of items in the lake, some of which they were not able to then bring to the surface. They did recover a seat identified to be like that from a Cessna 525. It was in that seat that what has been verified to be the human remains of a man were found.

Wintry weather and water conditions have hampered the search-and-recovery team’s efforts, with no activity over the weekend of January 7 and January 8 being carried out. Search efforts resumed on Monday, January 9, but were unable to be done on Tuesday, January 10.

The City of Cleveland who took over from the U.S. Coast Guard as the responsible entity after search-and-rescue efforts were halted on Saturday, December 31, have provided both police and dive teams from the Cleveland Fire Department toward the ongoing operation, working alongside the U.S. Coast Guard, the NTSB, the USGS, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and personnel and equipment from neighboring jurisdictions and New York state. The City of Cleveland has been cautious in the information its released through official channels, admonishing everyone to remember the grieving family members of those missing and to inform those families of new information before releasing it to the public.

Tim Sorenson, an investigator with the NTSB, commended the City of Cleveland and all the entities that are taking part in the search-and-recovery operation, “The community can be very proud of the local authorities and everyone that’s come together.”

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