CLEVELAND (AP) — A bag that washed ashore near a private harbor has been confirmed as coming from a small plane carrying six people that disappeared over Lake Erie near Cleveland, authorities said Monday as they resumed a search for the missing aircraft.
The city said there have been multiple reports of debris washing ashore east of Burke Lakefront Airport, where the plane carrying a family of four and their two neighbors departed late Thursday. John T. Fleming, chief executive of a Columbus-based beverage distribution company, was piloting. His wife, Sue, and their two teenage sons, Jack and Andrew, were also aboard.
Police confirmed that a bag recovered Sunday was from the aircraft. It was found near Shoreby Club Harbor in Bratenahl, a small lakeside community. No other details were released immediately.
The other debris hadn’t been verified as coming from the Cessna 525 Citation.
The aircraft was headed to Ohio State University Airport, northwest of downtown Columbus. The plane suddenly lost altitude about 2 miles out, according to a flight-tracking service.
Fleming’s father has said the family and friends went to a Cleveland Cavaliers basketball game.
The city of Cleveland said there were light winds and fairly calm waters Monday for seven vessels and four dive teams searching waters 35 to 45 feet deep. The search grid area is some 2.5 miles from east to west along the shoreline and 2 miles north to south into the lake.
A statement Monday afternoon from the city said it is in contact with the families of those aboard the aircraft and it urged respect for their privacy as they deal with the “difficult situation.”
The city said caution tape along the shoreline is a precautionary measure that doesn’t mean items from the plane have been found in the area.
“The search and recovery process can take a long time,” the city said.
The U.S. Coast Guard and crews from Cleveland city agencies, the cities of Akron and Toledo, Ohio’s Department of Natural Resources, New York State Police and Underwater Marine Contractors are involved in the search by air, shore and water.
The Coast Guard began searching the air after being notified soon after the plane’s disappearance. High waves and blustery conditions prevented smaller Coast Guard boats from the Cleveland area from deploying Thursday night. A 140-foot Coast Guard cutter joined a search that covered 128 square miles of the lake on Friday.
Weather and water conditions didn’t allow for recovery efforts to begin Saturday, but crews searched for the plane until darkness fell Sunday.
The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating.
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