Medical examiner: 3 of 6 victims from plane crash identified

AP News
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Posted: Jan 20, 2017 10:35 AM

CLEVELAND (AP) — The recovered remains of three of the six people killed when a plane crashed into Lake Erie off Cleveland last month have been identified, the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner said Friday.

Identifications were made for the plane's pilot, 45-year-old John Fleming, of Dublin, Ohio, his 15-year-old son, Jack, and a family friend, 50-year-old Brian Casey, of Powell, Ohio.

The other three people on the plane were Fleming's 46-year-old wife, Sue, their 14-year-old son, Andrew, and Casey's 19-year-old daughter, Megan, a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Cleveland officials announced on Tuesday that it was ending recovery efforts and said it was unlikely additional remains would be found because of conditions in Lake Erie.

The six were flying back to Columbus after attending a Cleveland Cavaliers game on Dec. 29.

The National Transportation Safety Board issued a preliminary report Thursday night that said John Fleming, a Columbus businessman, had received a certification to fly the Cessna Citation 525 just 21 days before the crash. The NTSB report provides a timeline for the crash, but does not indicate why the plane suddenly lost altitude and crashed one minute after takeoff.

According to the NTSB report, the air traffic controller at Burke Lakefront Airport cleared Fleming for takeoff at 10:56 p.m. and instructed him to turn right and maintain an altitude of 2,000 feet. Fleming acknowledged the clearance. After takeoff, the controller told Fleming to contact departure control. Fleming didn't respond.

The report said position data indicated the plane reached an altitude of approximately 2,925 feet, nearly 1,000 feet higher than what the air traffic controller had instructed. About five seconds later, the plane quickly descended. The final data point was recorded at 10:57 p.m., showing the plane's altitude at just 775 feet.

Search and recovery efforts in the days and weeks that followed were hampered by weather and lake conditions before the announcement Tuesday.

Airplane debris including the cockpit voice recorder was recovered. The NTSB said the recorder captured the entire flight and a committee in Washington will listen to and transcribe it for the investigation into the cause of the crash.

Federal Aviation Administration records indicated Fleming purchased the plane in October and the most recent maintenance activity occurred on Dec. 17.

The records also revealed Fleming did not become certified to fly the plane until Dec. 8, when he successfully completed the FAA practical test. His initial Cessna 525 training was done in the accident airplane. He then completed a simulator-based recurrent training course at FlightSafety International on Dec. 17.