CLEVELAND, Ohio-- The long search for a missing plane in Lake Erie has the FOX 8 I-Team investigating the City of Cleveland’s formal plans for handling any plane crash into the water.
The city refused to give us a copy of its policies and procedures for this citing Homeland Security. So we went one-on-one with Mayor Frank Jackson.
As of late afternoon Thursday, no sign of the plane which disappeared a week ago with 6 people on board. We’ve noticed so many of the crews searching came from out of town and other agencies. Some even from out of state. And red tape bogged down an attempt to bring in some special equipment that could help.
Still, the mayor defended the search. Frank Jackson said, “You are never completely prepared for a tragedy like this. You're never."
Jackson says crews have done all they can. Put themselves in danger, too, at times when the water wasn’t very safe for diving.
We’ve shown you an old Cleveland police boat locked up. No police harbor unit anymore. And police divers are assigned to a boat with the sheriff’s department which is now out of the water for the winter. But the mayor won’t apologize for relying on outside help especially since the last crash like this happened years ago.
Jackson said, "You don't staff up for a once-in-every-8-year thing. You staff up to do basics."
The I -Team obtained a report showing what happened in the moments after the call came in saying this plane had gone down. Police and dispatchers contacted the coast guard and the fire department; they checked to see if the police chopper was up, and they contacted the airport where this plane was headed.
The Coast Guard says it oversees water rescues. The city oversees recovery efforts. But no single agency has overall responsibility for the Lake. Coast Guard Lt. Katelyn Waddle said, "Especially for an incident when we have a plane going down, we want to get as many assets from as many agencies as possible." She added, "Our first response is what happened? Can we get there?"
The mayor says a search like this becomes personal. Crews and officials get to know loved ones of the passengers. The mayor said, “We're actually looking families in the face that are mourning. So we take this very seriously."
The city says it has had a written search plan for years, and that plan gets updated yearly.
The FAA says it has no requirements for airports concerning response plans for plane crashes in water, and the OH Emergency Management Agency does not either.
Cuyahoga County says it does not have a written policy for joint operations involving water recovery.