OHIO AIR MYSTERY Plane reportedly flown by CEO lost with 6 onboard
U.S. Coast Guard crews in Ohio searched for hours on Friday but found no debris after a small plane reportedly piloted by a beverage company CEO vanished shortly after takeoff with three adults and three children on board.
The Columbus-bound Cessna Citation 525 departed Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland late Thursday night and disappeared from radar about two miles over Lake Erie, north of the airport. Why remains unclear.
The Columbus Dispatch reported that the plane was piloted by John T. Fleming, CEO at Superior Beverage Group in Columbus, according to his father.
The elder Fleming said that in addition to his son, the plane carried Fleming’s wife, their two teenage sons, a neighbor and the neighbor’s daughter.
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Crews heard faint signals from an emergency beacon, Capt. Michael Mullen, Coast Guard District 9 Chief of Response, told reporters during a news conference. He said the search area was 16 nautical miles by 8 nautical miles.
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The group on the plane apparently had just left the Cleveland Cavaliers game, officials told Fox 8.
The plane was headed to Ohio State University Airport northwest of downtown Columbus. Cox said the plane is kept at a hangar at the airfield, but the six people aboard — apparently from two families — aren’t affiliated with OSU. Their names weren’t released, pending notification of their relatives.
Weather prevented a boat search overnight, but a U.S. Coast guard helicopter and a Canadian air crew were searching. A ship also was headed from Detroit to help.
The waters in the search area are about 50 feet deep, the Coast Guard said.
The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board were notified of the search, Mullen said.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.