CLEVELAND -- A plane that disappeared over Lake Erie late Thursday night was carrying the chief executive of a Columbus beverage distributor and his family, according to the Columbus Dispatch.
John T. Fleming, CEO at Superior Beverage Group, was flying the Cessna Citation 525 carrying his 46-year-old wife, Suzanne, his two teenage sons, 15-year-old John Robert Fleming and 14-year-old Andrew Thomas Fleming, a neighbor and a neighbor’s daughter, the Dispatch reported.
The Coast Guard and the Canadian Royal Air Force searched the lake for more than 20 hours after the small plane vanished shortly after taking off about 11:30 p.m. from the Burke Lakefront Airport. A 144-foot ice breaker from Detroit was also dispatched to help with the search, according to the Coast Guard.
The Coast Guard suspended the search at 7:30 p.m. Friday after having covered 128 square miles of Lake Erie.
Michael Mullen, Chief of Response for U.S. Coast Guard, said snow squalls complicated search efforts Thursday night, and officials are "taking advantage of the daylight" to try to locate the missing plane and passengers.
“I’m always looking for a needle in the haystack, and I’m hopeful to do that here," Mullen said.
— Abby Anstead (@AbbyAnstead) December 30, 2016
John W. Fleming said his son was “an experienced pilot,” but declined to say how long he had been flying.
“We’re just in shock,” he said.
— Evan Millward (@EvanMillward) December 30, 2016
Fleming and his passengers were reportedly flying back to Columbus after attending the Cleveland Cavilers game.
The aircraft took off from the Ohio State University Airport around 5:30 p.m. Thursday and was scheduled to return there.
Only seconds into the flight, Burke Lakefront Airport said it lost all contact and radar of the plane.
WCPO will continue to update this page as new information becomes available.