UW freshman among 6 missing after airplane crashes in Lake Erie

MADISON -- A University of Wisconsin-Madison freshman is among the six people missing and feared lost after a private plane crashed in Lake Erie near Cleveland on December 29th, a news release from UW indicated on Monday, January 2nd.

The student is identified as 19-year-old Megan Casey of Powell, Ohio.

Search for missing plane in Lake Erie

The plane was registered to John T. Fleming, a beverage company executive, and is based at Ohio State University Airport, the airport's director told CNN on Friday.

Fleming's father, John W. Fleming, told the Columbus Dispatch that his son was at the controls of the Cessna that went missing after the pilot, his family and friends attended a Cleveland Cavaliers basketball game on Thursday night.

Search for missing plane in Lake Erie

Also on board the plane were Fleming's wife, Suzanne Fleming, 46, their two sons, John Robert, 15, and Andrew Thomas, 14, a neighbor, Brian Casey and Casey's daughter Megan, the pilot's father told the newspaper.

John T. Fleming, an experienced pilot, was taking his family and neighbors to the Cavaliers game as a treat for the holidays, according to his father. Fleming is president and CEO of Superior Beverage Group, according to his LinkedIn page.

Fleming family

Search for missing plane in Lake Erie

The plane has not yet been recovered, but the U.S. Coast Guard is continuing the search for the missing plane after baggage and debris washed up on shore.

The last radar contact with the plane came as it flew about 2 miles north of Cleveland's Burke Lakefront Airport, where it took off, according to US Coast Guard Capt. Michael Mullen.

Search for missing plane in Lake Erie

The Citation 525 was headed for the university airport in Columbus when it disappeared from radar, a Coast Guard statement said.

Air traffic control reported to the Coast Guard about 11:30 p.m. on Thursday that the plane had just taken off and "dropped off radar about 2 miles when it was over Lake Erie," Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Christopher Yaw told CNN.

Search for missing plane in Lake Erie

Thus far, only a bag found in a harbor is confirmed to have belonged to the aircraft, Cleveland police said Monday. "Over 120 pieces of debris were recovered so far and many are consistent with what would be found on a Cessna 525 Citation. We are not sharing any further information about the debris as it is part of an active investigation."

"You think about it and think 'why can't they find anything?' Then you come up here and look at the water and now you understand why because this is awesomely huge. It's dark. It's gray. How would you possibly find anything?" Suzanne Zupko said.

"We've been looking for anything we see floating around," Walter Thomas said.

Search for missing plane in Lake Erie

The US Coast Guard was searching Friday for a small plane that went missing Thursday night over Lake Erie shortly after takeoff from Cleveland.

The US Coast Guard was searching Friday for a small plane that went missing Thursday night over Lake Erie shortly after takeoff from Cleveland.

UW officials say during her time on campus, Megan Casey was a resident of University Housing and participated in a sorority. She was pursuing a career in nursing.

Dean of Students and Vice Provost for Student Life Lori Berquam issued the following statement:

"In the short time she was on our campus, Megan was a friend to many and was pursuing a career in nursing. Our thoughts are with her family and friends."

Search for missing plane in Lake Erie

In a statement from her family, Megan and Brian Casey are described as "loving, caring, remarkable individuals." The statement reads as follows:

"Our family greatly appreciates the dedicated efforts of the rescue and recovery teams, and we are especially thankful for the outpouring of support thoughts and prayers from family, friends and the community."

The Coast Guard continues to search the lake as volunteers fan out along the shore.

So far, investigators have few answers and a growing list of questions.

The search resumes Tuesday. It was called off after sunset Monday.

Monitor FOX6 News and FOX6Now.com for updates on this developing story.

1 Comment

  • Count of crisco

    Very very sad. Why not fly with a safety pilot when operating a high performance aircraft flying with family, I don’t care how many hours pilot in command in type you may have, you’re family is a heartbeat away from the unthinkable. Just because you can afford a Ferrari doesn’t mean you should buy one. Not blaming anyone here, just sayin.

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