LUDINGTON, Mich. (AP) - Authorities called off their search Saturday for four peoplemissing since a
The pilot, 66-year-old Jerry Freed of Alma, was rescuedfollowing the crash Friday morning several miles off the westMichigan coast. Hospital officials told 24 Hour News 8 he wasreleased from the hospital Saturday.
After combing the area for 27 hours, rescuers concluded therewas little chance anyone else had survived, said Petty OfficerBrandon Blackwell of the U.S. Coast Guard's district headquartersin Cleveland.
"We can resume a search if credible information is received thatpersons missing may be alive," Blackwell told The Associated Press."At this point, we saturated an area that's approximately 1,000square miles ... and we've turned up nothing."
Also aboard the plane were co-pilot Earl Davidson, Alma schoolsuperintendent Don Pavlik, his wife Irene, and Dr. James Hall. Allwere residents of Alma, a central Michigan town 150 miles northwestof Detroit.
Don Pavlik was diagnosed earlier this year with cancer of theesophagus, said Tony Costanzo, the school board's vice president.Freed and Davidson had offered to fly Pavlik to the medical centerin Rochester, Minn., for treatment, he said. Hall went along tohelp his ailing friend, Costanzo said.
Freed was listed in good condition Saturday at Memorial MedicalCenter in Ludington, hospital spokesman Bill Kerans said. He saidFreed was denying interview requests.
The plane took off from Alma about 9 a.m. Friday. Less than anhour later, Freed reported mechanical problems to the air trafficcontrol tower in Minneapolis, said the Federal AviationAdministration, which was investigating the crash.
Battling a strong headwind over the lake, Freed decided toreturn to Michigan, said a statement from the Mason Countyemergency management office. It said the passengers were preparedfor an emergency landing.
Freed's wife, Carol, told the Ludington Daily News her husbandhad checked the plane Thursday in preparation for the trip and hadno concerns. She told the AP that Jerry Freed had flown many peopleto the Mayo Clinic over the years.
The lake's surface temperature was an estimated 68 degreesFriday and waves were 2 to 4 feet, authorities said. Mason CountyUndersheriff Tom Trenner said Saturday that prospects weren't goodfor surviving more than a day in such chilly water.
"At some point it will move from an active search to a recoverymode, where we're looking to recover bodies," Trenner said.
State police dive teams were using sonar devices to find thesunken plane.
The U.S. and Canadian Coast Guards provided helicopters andfixed-wing planes for the search. Coast Guard boats were joined byvessels from the Mason and Oceana County sheriff's departments andMichigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment, alongwith number of volunteer boaters.
The search had gone on throughout Friday night. A bright moonand powerful searchlights gave crews a good view of the water'ssurface, said Coast Guard Petty Officer Chris Legard, who wasaboard a 25-foot craft based in Ludington.
The water was choppy early in the evening but grew calm later,Legard said.
If any survivors "were close to us, we would have been able tosee them," he said.
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