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Authorities resume search for missing plane in Lake Erie

By Brooks Hays
Authorities resume search for missing plane in Lake Erie
Authorities are still looking for the remains of a small aircraft that went missing over Lake Erie on Thursday, December 29, 2016. The passengers aboard are believed to be Columbus,Ohio-based Superior Beverage Group president and CEO John T. Fleming, his wife Sue, sons Jack and Andrew and two family friends. Screenshot from WKBN

CLEVELAND, Jan. 1 (UPI) -- Cleveland Division of Fire, the U.S. Coast Guard and Underwater Marine Contractors, a private dive team, launched boats on Lake Erie on Sunday, continuing the search for a missing airplane.

Authorities believe the plane, carrying six people, crashed into the lake late Thursday, shortly after taking off from Burke Lakefront Airport.

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The Cessna Citation 525 was piloted by Superior Beverage CEO John T. Fleming, who was returning home to Columbus with friends and family after attending a Cleveland Cavaliers game. Fleming's wife and two teenage sons, as well as two neighbors, were onboard when the plane went down.

Weather conditions made search efforts difficult on Friday and Saturday, but skies were clearer on Sunday morning. Friday's efforts involved U.S. Coast Guard, Canadian Coast Guard and local enforcement agencies. Officials scoured 1,400 square miles of shoreline but found no evidence of wreckage.

The Coast Guard announced the end of their initial search efforts on Friday, switching from a "rescue" operation to a downsized "recovery" effort.

The boats launched Sunday are equipped with sonar, as well as experienced divers prepared to go to work if signs of the wreckage are found.

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