Divers to search for signal coming from missing plane; family of victims releases statement

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CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Two vessels have been deployed this morning and equipped with sonar, divers and NTSB equipment in the search for the plane that went missing over Lake Erie. 

The plane has been missing since Dec. 29.

According to a press release from the city of Cleveland, one vessel, the Salvage Chief, went to specific coordinates and is deploying divers. The divers will utilize the underwater locator beacon detector to move toward a signal coming from the plane's beacon.

The closer the divers get to the signal, the stronger it will be.

"This will be a slow and deliberate process that may take several hours to search even a small area," the release states.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources will also deploy a vessel with crews from Cleveland Fire. They will operate a drop sector sonar scanner to track the divers and get images from the bottom of the lake.

Because of below zero wind chills, shoreline searches will be limited.

Meanwhile, the family of the victims on board have issued a statement and released information regarding calling hours.

Superior Beverage CEO John T. Fleming was piloting the plane. His wife, two teen sons, and their neighbor, Brian Casey, and his daughter, Megan, were also on the plane. They had attended the Cleveland Cavaliers game and were on their way back to their home in the Columbus area.

Read the family's statement below:

"John T. Fleming, 46, President and Chief Executive Officer of Superior Beverage Group, and his family were onboard the plane that went down last week over Lake Erie off the Cleveland shoreline. By all accounts, the Fleming family was loved and admired by family and friends in their business, community, school, neighborhood, and home town circles.

In his nearly 30-year career with Superior Beverage Group and the beverage distribution industry, John rose to the highest levels of leadership. Likewise, in his community, he was an active leader and volunteer in many charitable endeavors. He was a 1993 magna cum laude graduate of Wake Forest University, a CPA, and a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity.

John and his wife, Sue, were high school sweethearts, 1989 graduates of Boardman High School, and 17-year residents of Greater Columbus. Sue graduated from Youngstown State University with a bachelor’s degree in social work. She was a passionate advocate and supporter of JDRF, the leading funder of type 1 diabetes research. While active on many fronts, she was devoted primarily to raising her two boys. Her pride and joy was her role as wife, mother, and daughter.

Jack, 15, a sophomore at Olentangy Liberty High School, excelled in the classroom as a 4.0 honor student and was extremely popular among his peers. He enjoyed golf, basketball, snow skiing, and especially playing touch football with his friends. He loved Ohio sports – the Browns, Indians, Cavaliers and Buckeyes, attending all Ohio State home football games. Jack dedicated his life to helping his brother. He was Andrew’s eyes, his constant companion, and best-ever big brother.

Andrew, 14, attended Ohio State School for the Blind in Columbus, where he participated on the track and swim teams. He also enjoyed playing baseball in the Miracle Baseball League and competing in Special Olympics. He joined in the Juvenile Diabetes walk alongside all those there to support him. He too was an avid sports fan, and his favorite teams were the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Cavaliers.  Always the jokester, he was known for his wonderful sense of humor. His faithful service dog, Sandy, was always at his side.

The extended Fleming and Armeni families also express deepest condolences to the Casey family. Friends and neighbors Brian Casey and his daughter Megan also were onboard the plane.

The families are touched by the tremendous outpouring of support and continue to be grateful to all the agencies and individuals who have aided in the search and recovery efforts, now in the capable hands of the City of Cleveland. They extend their deep appreciation for the concern, kindness, and privacy shown by so many during this most difficult time."

For more on funeral arrangements, click here. 

Continuing coverage here. 

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