|Body parts found in wreck of Fossett's plane|
By staff writers and wires
October 03, 2008 09:07am
Article from: NEWS.com.au
* Body parts found in wreck of Fossett's plane
* Has been missing since September 2007
* In pictures: The crash site
BODY parts have been found in the wreckage of adventurer Steve Fossett's plane.
The National Transportation Safety Board said searchers found enough at the crash site to give coroners DNA samples, the Associated Press reported.
National Transportation Safety Board acting chairman Mark Rosenker would not say exactly what searchers found but he said it was not surprising how little they uncovered, considering how long it had been since the crash.
In-depth: the Fossett mystery
Search crews and cadaver dogs had been scouring the steep terrain in eastern California after the wreckage of Fossett's plane was found in hopes of finding at least some trace of his body and solving the mystery of his disappearance once and for all.
The mangled debris of Fossett's single-engine Bellanca was spotted from the air overnight near the town of Mammoth Lakes in the Sierra Nevada mountains and was identified by its tail number.
Investigators said the plane had slammed straight into a mountainside, the Associated Press reported.
"It was a hard-impact crash, and he would've died instantly,'' said Jeff Page, emergency management co-ordinator for Lyon County, Nevada.
The wreckage and debris suggested a violent and direct crash, said Shannon Kendall, a spokeswoman for the Mono County Sheriff's Department. The plane's engine was found 100m from the wreckage of the fuselage.
"It's not intact by any means ... It looks like a very high impact crash," she said.
National Transportation Safety Board investigators have been sent to discover what caused the plane to go down, 3200m up the mountain.
Searchers noted the many coyotes and other wildlife in the area.
"It's quite often if you don't find remains within a few days, because of animals, you'll find nothing at all,'' said Madera County Sheriff John Anderson.
Fossett, 63, vanished in September 2007after taking off from the airstrip of hotel magnate Barron Hilton's ranch in Nevada.
He did not file a flight plan but friends said he was going on a casual pleasure flight.
His Bellanca Citabria Super Decathlon, a plane capable of aerobatics, had enough fuel for four or five hours of flight.
When Fossett did not return, a huge search was launched for the adventurer, who held several aviation and sailing records.
Despite weeks of extensive land and air searches, no sign of Fossett or his plane was found.
He was declared legally dead in February after investigators concluded his plane was destroyed in a fatal accident.
But this week, a hiker found items belonging to Fossett, including two of his aviation identification cards, along with several $100 bills.
The items were found in a rugged part of Madera County in the eastern Sierras between Yosemite National Park and the Nevada border, sparking a new search for the plane wreckage.
Fossett's widow Peggy was told of the find.
"The uncertainty surrounding my husband's death over this past year has created a very difficult situation for me," she said.
"I hope now to be able to bring to closure a very painful chapter in my life."
Virgin Group founder and friend Richard Branson also treated the news as evidence of Fossett's demise - and a rebuke to speculation that he might still be alive.
"Now that the plane has been found we can finally bring closure to Steve's wonderful life," Sir Richard said.
"The frivolous stories can also be put to rest and family, friends and the rest of the world can now pay tribute to a truly great and extraordinary man."
- With Reuters