Company issues statement as search continues for missing plane on Lake Erie

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CLEVELAND-- The chief executive of a beverage distribution company was piloting the plane that disappeared over Lake Erie Thursday night.

Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland lost communication with the Cessna Citation 525 at about 11 p.m., shortly after take off.  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.

Superior Beverage CEO John T. Fleming was on board with his wife, two teen sons, a neighbor and the neighbor's daughter.

Executive Vice President of Superior Beverage Group Joseph R. McHenry issued the following statement Friday evening:

"We have learned that our valued colleague and leader John T. Fleming, President and Chief Executive Officer of Superior Beverage Group, his wife Sue, sons Jack and Andrew, and two close friends were involved in an aircraft accident near Cleveland Thursday night. While search and rescue operations are under way, we are focusing our efforts on supporting the families involved. We are working closely with the proper authorities conducting the investigation. We appreciate the efforts of the first responders on the scene.

"As we all await the results of the search and rescue efforts, our hearts are with John, his wife, their sons, and close friends on board, as well as with their loved ones and everyone in the Superior Beverage family.

"This is a difficult day for us, and we appreciate the concern and thoughtfulness extended by so many."

Mike Mullins with the U.S. Coast Guard told reporters Friday this is a rescue mission.

Continuing coverage here

Burke Lakefront Airport