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Coast Guard suspends search for missing plane, hands over to Cleveland for search and recovery

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CLEVELAND, Ohio-- The Coast Guard suspended its active search of a missing plane in Lake Erie  at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

The search and rescue was handed over to the City of Cleveland for search and recovery.

The U.S. Coast Guard will become involved again if there is some new information that would require them to do so.

More information is expected to be released at a press conference at 10 a.m. Saturday.

**Stay tuned to FOX8.com for LIVE coverage**

Courtesy: Fleming family member via CNN

Courtesy: Fleming family member via CNN

Superior Beverage CEO John T. Fleming was piloting the plane that disappeared over Lake Erie Thursday night.  His wife, two teen sons, a neighbor and the neighbor's daughter were also on board.

Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland lost communication with the Cessna Citation 525 at about 11 p.m., Thursday, shortly after takeoff.  On Friday, the U.S. Coast Guard, using helicopters and the cutter Bristol Bay, expanded its search from Bay Village to Mentor-on-the-Lake.

The search covered more than 128 square miles of Lake Erie.

"The decision to suspend a search is never easy," said Capt. Michael Mullen, chief of response for the Coast Guard 9th District. "I extend my deepest condolences to the family and friends of those who lost loved ones during this tragedy."

According to the Coast Guard, the search spanned more than 20 hours and included Coast Guard crews aboard an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter, an HC-130 aircraft and the Coast Guard Cutter Bristol Bay, as well as an aircrew aboard a Royal Canadian Air Force CC-130 from Joint Rescue Coordination Centre Trenton, Ontario.

The Coast Guard explained that it suspends a search and rescue case with extreme care and deliberation. "After a search area is located and saturated with a maximum number of assets, resources and crew effort, and persons in distress are still not located, a decision is made to suspend a search for survivors," a press release stated.

**Continuing coverage, here**