Search resumes for plane carrying 6 that vanished in Ohio; UW student among the missing
CLEVELAND — Another day of combing Lake Erie turned up empty Tuesday in a search for a small plane authorities believe crashed after taking off from a Cleveland airport.
“We’re going to continue searching until we find something,” said Khalid Bahhur, commissioner of the Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland. “And it’s on a day-to-day basis.”
Six people were on board the Cessna 525 Citation that vanished from radar last week, a family of four and a University of Wisconsin-Madison student and her father.
Bahhur said seven vessels were in the water on Tuesday scouring a 12 square-mile area, along with four dive teams. A Cleveland Police helicopter searched Lake Erie by air, and Metroparks rangers combed the shoreline along Lake Erie, east of the Burke Lakefront Airport, with a small boat, police said.
Crews had previously discovered more than 120 pieces of debris, some of which were consistent with a Cessna 525. Michael McGrath, Cleveland’s director of public safety, said more debris was found on Tuesday but he didn’t offer further details.
Bahhur said authorities hope to find the aircraft.
“Dive teams are very passionate at what they do,” Bahhur said. “They are out there. They are working extremely hard.”
Police suspended the search Tuesday evening and plan to resume on Wednesday.
The Citation 525 was headed for The Ohio State University Airport in Columbus when it disappeared from radar, according to a Coast Guard statement.
The last radar contact came as the plane flew about 2 miles north of Burke Lake Front Airport, where it had taken off, according to US Coast Guard Capt. Michael Mullen.
The plane was registered to John T. Fleming, a beverage company executive, and is based at the university airport, the airport’s director told CNN on Friday.
Fleming’s father, John W. Fleming, told the Columbus Dispatch his son was flying the Cessna that vanished after the pilot, his family and friends attended a Cleveland Cavaliers basketball game on Thursday night.
Fleming’s wife, Suzanne Fleming, 46; their two sons, John Robert, 15, and Andrew Thomas, 14, along with a neighbor and a neighbor’s daughter were also on board, the pilot’s father told the newspaper.
John T. Fleming, an experienced pilot, was taking his family and neighbors to the Cavaliers game for a holiday treat, his father said.
Fleming is president and CEO of Superior Beverage Group, according to his LinkedIn page.
The University of Wisconsin-Madison said freshman Megan Casey, 19, and her father, Brian, were aboard the flight.
Over the weekend, a bag washed shore near the Shoreby Club in Bratenahl, Ohio, east of Cleveland, CNN affiliate WEWS reported. Cleveland Police later confirmed the bag belonged to the aircraft.
Fred Szabo, interim director of the Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, told reporters the National Transportation Safety Board won’t be on the scene until authorities find parts that will help the federal agency determine the cause of the crash.