The search for human remains from a plane that crashed into Lake Erie last month has ended, and DNA testing has identified three of the six people killed, an airport official said on Tuesday. ”Due to conditions in the water, it is not likely we will be able to recover additional human remains from dives at this point,” Burke Lakefront Airport Commissioner Khalid Bahhur said.
Divers on Tuesday recovered two large pieces of debris but no additional human remains from the Cessna Citation 525 that crashed minutes after takeoff during snowy conditions on Dec. 29. Bahhur read a statement from Cuyahoga County’s medical examiner about the identification of the DNA profiles. The statement said comparison testing was underway to confirm the profiles match profiles provided by relatives of the passengers.
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Killed in the crash were Columbus businessman John T. Fleming, who was piloting the plane; his wife, Sue Fleming; their teenage sons, Jack and Andrew Fleming; their neighbor Brian Casey; and Casey’s teenage daughter, Megan Casey, a student at the University of Wisconsin Madison. The plane was headed back to Columbus after the six attended a Cleveland Cavaliers game that evening.
Relatives of those killed were told on Tuesday that the recovery effort had ended, Bahhur said. ”A decision like this one is not made lightly, but is a decision that must be made at some point to provide closure to the families and those who worked closely on this operation,” Bahhur said. The National Transportation Safety Board said the plane’s cockpit voice recorder has a usable recording and a committee in Washington, D.C., will listen to and transcribe it for the investigation by the NTSB and the Federation Aviation Administration into the cause of the crash.
The search grid for the plane was narrowed using 3D mapping and other information from about 11 square miles of Lake Erie to about 300 feet by 600 feet, Bahhur said. Equipment from the NTSB was used to further narrow the search area and allowed divers to find the plane’s cockpit voice recorder, its emergency locator transmitter and other debris.