PASCAGOULA, Miss. (AP) — The Coast Guard suspended its search Wednesday night for three people aboard a single-engine plane that crashed in the Mississippi Sound.
Gerald Miletello of West Monroe, Louisiana, along with Dexter Brewer of Saucier, Mississippi, and pilot Ron Gregory have been missing since their aircraft disappeared Monday just minutes after taking off from Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport.
Part of the tail was found on an Ocean Springs beach Tuesday, and officials had been searching nearby waters.
"Our condolences go out to the friends and family of the missing men," said Capt. Brandon Lechthaler of the Coast Guard in Mobile. "Suspending a search is a difficult decision to make. Our goal for every search and rescue mission is to find survivors and return them to their loved ones. We'll investigate any new leads on this case and resume searching if appropriate."
According to a news release, the Coast Guard and response crews covered more than 3,500 square miles in their search.
The Department of Marine Resources will continue to look for the missing men through Thursday.
The wife of a missing passenger is begging anyone with a boat to continue the search.
"We just have to get them home," Pam Miletello told The Sun Herald. "I plead with you, the public, to please get in your boats and make this happen. We need pieces of the plane. We need (the men)."
Bob Roy, president of Georgia-based contractor RMR Mechanical, told The Sun Herald that two of the three onboard worked for the company. He says Miletello was vice president and co-owner and Brewer was a manager. Brewer was headed to a customer meeting in South Carolina, Roy said.
The (Monroe) News-Star reported Wednesday that the plane made its first stop in Ruston, Louisiana, to pick-up Miletello. It then traveled to Gulfport to pick up Brewer and refuel.
Coast Guard spokesman Jonathan Lally said air controllers lost radar contact with the Lancair plane after taking off from Gulfport about 12:30 p.m. Monday. The plane's last known location was about 3.5 miles south of Pascagoula, over the water.