6 missing after small plane loses contact over Lake Erie

Posted at 7:49 AM, Dec 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-30 11:23:49-05

The US Coast Guard was searching Lake Erie Friday for a small plane carrying six people who had attended a Cleveland Cavaliers basketball game before flying out of the city late Thursday.

Three adults and three children were on board the aircraft, CNN affiliate WEWS reported. Their identities were not immediately known.

The twin-engine Cessna Citation 525 was headed for Ohio State University Airport in Columbus, Ohio, when it disappeared from radar, a Coast Guard statement said.

“The Coast Guard dispatched a helicopter from air station Detroit and has partnered with the Canadian Coast Guard who sent a C-130 plane down to assist in the search,” the statement said.

Coast Guard Cutter Bristol Bay is also on its way from Detroit to help, the Coast Guard said.

The search operation was being made “very difficult” by 12- to 15-foot waves on Lake Erie, the Coast Guard said.

Air traffic control reported to the Coast Guard at about 11:30 p.m. on Thursday that the plane had just taken off from Burke Lakefront Airport in downtown Cleveland and “dropped off radar about two miles when it was over Lake Erie,” Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Christopher Yaw told CNN.

The missing Cessna has room for up to 11 people, but the plane’s flight plan indicates it had six people on board, Yaw said.

Ohio State University Airport where the plane was headed is certified for commercial service and serves as a research and teaching facility. The airport is owned and operated by the Ohio State College of Engineering, according to its website.