Cleveland officials say possible human remains found in plane crash investigation

CLEVELAND-- Cleveland officials released new information Friday night into the plane crash investigation in Lake Erie.

At a press conference shortly after 6 p.m., officials said they recovered a seat from a passenger compartment and found what appear to be human remains.

The medical examiner was called in to analyze what was found.

(Photo courtesy: city of Cleveland)

Diver from Underwater Marine Contractor comes out of the water with this important piece of equipment. (Photo credit: Underwater Marine Contractors)

Earlier Friday, officials said dive teams recovered the plane's cockpit voice recorder and a portion of the tail, Interim Port Control Director Fred Szabo. He said they have found pieces of debris and it's possible the fuselage is not completely intact.

The voice recorder will be sent to Washington D.C. for the National Transportation Safety Board to process.

Search and recovery operations will be suspended over the weekend due to weather and water conditions. Investigators will respond to any reports of debris on the shoreline over the weekend.

Operations will begin again on Monday at daybreak.

The Cessna Citation 525 went missing shortly after takeoff from Burke Lakefront Airport on Dec. 29. It was flown by Superior Beverage President and CEO John Fleming, who was with his wife Sue; sons Jack and Andrew; neighbor Brian Casey; and Casey's daughter Megan. The group went to the Cleveland Cavaliers game that night and was traveling back home to the Columbus area.

The city of Cleveland released the following statements on behalf of the families:

“We, The Fleming and Armeni families, continue to be touched by the tremendous outpouring of support and are incredibly appreciative of all the individuals who have aided in the search and recovery efforts to date. Words cannot express how grateful we are for the heroic efforts and countless hours exerted by the wonderful people at the numerous agencies involved. The City of Cleveland, and all constituencies involved with the rescue and recovery, have shown unbelievable resolve and we applaud everyone for their unwavering commitment to bringing our loved ones home. We extend our deep appreciation for the concern, kindness, and privacy shown by so many during this most difficult time.”

“The Casey family greatly appreciates the dedicated efforts of the rescue and recovery teams, and we are especially thankful for the outpouring of support thoughts and prayers from family, friends and the community.”

“Suzie, as she was called, truly valued family. Her main pride and joy was her role as a wife, mother, daughter and sister. She spent every waking moment pursuing the health and wellness of her children, Andrew and Jack and her husband, John. She cherished the time she was able to spend with the four of them together and even quiet times at home. The Armeni siblings’ fondest memories with Sue were their Christmas Eve Italian traditional Feast of the Seven Fishes – where they would get together cooking as a family. This tradition, started by their father, continues each year.”

(More on calling hours and memorial services here)

The day following the plane's disappearance, the U.S. Coast Guard searched an area covering 16 by 8 nautical miles, using helicopters and the Cutter Bristol Bay.

During the last week, more than 100 pieces of debris consistent with the aircraft were recovered from Lake Erie. Weather conditions hindered search efforts at times.

On Thursday, the city of Cleveland said it narrowed the search for the cockpit voice recorder. The NTSB underwater locator beacon detector from the USGS Muskie received multiple transmissions. The Muskie and the Salvage Chief from Underwater Marine Contractors deployed dive teams and sonar to comb a portion of the lake.

Several agencies were involved in the recovery mission, including the U.S. Coast Guard, Cleveland Division of Police, Cleveland Division of Fire, Cleveland Metroparks Rangers and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, as well as New York State Police.

More stories on the missing plane here

Jen Steer January 6, 20173:05 pm

Fred Szabo, interim director of Port Control, says they found the cockpit voice recorder and portions of the tail.

Jen Steer January 6, 20173:05 pm

Szabo says they have met with family members.

Jen Steer January 6, 20173:06 pm

Dive teams found the recorder this afternoon. Other debris was also recovered.

Jen Steer January 6, 20173:06 pm

Divers will continue for another two to three hours.

Jen Steer January 6, 20173:09 pm

A statement from the Casey family thanks the rescue crews and the support of the community.

Jen Steer January 6, 20173:11 pm

Underwater visibility and lake conditions hindered the search in the early stages.

Jen Steer January 6, 20173:13 pm

Szabo says the visibility is about a foot and a half at the crash site. He says they have found pieces and the fuselage may not be completely in tact. 

Jen Steer January 6, 20173:15 pm

The cockpit voice recorder will be sent to Washington for review.

Burke Lakefront Airport