The Coast News Group
The Coast Guard suspended its search for a downed plane near San Clemente Island on May 11.

Coast Guard suspends search for downed plane

SAN CLEMENTE ISLAND — The Coast Guard has suspended its search for a downed plane with three people aboard near San Clemente Island.

Officials said they searched 334 square miles and found no signs of any survivors after the Phoenix Air Learjet went missing on May 10 about a mile southwest of San Clemente Island.

“Suspending search efforts is one of the hardest decisions to be made, but after aggressively searching the area around San Clemente Island for more than 24 hours using land, air and surface assets with negative results, the decision was made to suspend the active search until further information or developments occur,” said Capt. Jim Spitler, commander, U.S. Coast Guard Sector San Diego. “Our thoughts are with the family and friends of the missing passengers.”

Watchstanders at the Coast Guard’s Joint Harbor Operations Center in San Diego received the initial report of a downed Phoenix Air Learjet with three people on board at 7:53 a.m. on May 10 from the Fleet Area Control and Surveillance Facility in San Diego.

“The aircraft didn’t make it back to the San Clemente Island runway,” the Coast Guard said in a statement. “The Phoenix Air Learjet was reportedly contracted by the U.S. Navy and took off from Point Mugu Naval Air Station.”

According to the Coast Guard, another Phoenix Air Learjet was in the area and immediately began searching for possible survivors. A debris field was found one mile southwest of San Clemente Island.

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations aircraft and the USS San Diego diverted after hearing the emergency broadcast and began searching the area as well, the Coast Guard reported.

A MH-60 Jayhawk aircrew from Coast Guard Sector San Diego and the crew aboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Robert Ward from Long Beach led the search.

Additionally, a U.S. Air Force C-130, multiple Air Force land and surface assets from 68th Rescue Squadron and a U.S. Navy MH-60 Romeo helicopter from Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron were launched and assisted in the search.

The area near San Clemente Island where the downed plane was reported is considered part of Los Angeles County and is south of Catalina Island.

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