Jackson County

Update: Coast Guard calls off search for occupants of downed plane

JOHN FITZHUGH/SUN HERALDJackson County Sheriff's Department personnel search for a plane missing in the waters south of Belle Fontaine Beach in Jackson County on Tuesday Oct. 27, 2015
JOHN FITZHUGH/SUN HERALDJackson County Sheriff's Department personnel search for a plane missing in the waters south of Belle Fontaine Beach in Jackson County on Tuesday Oct. 27, 2015 SUN HERALD

PASCAGOULA -- The wife of a missing passenger from Monday's plane crash is begging anyone with a boat to continue the search for her husband and two other men.

"We just have to get them home," Pam Miletello said. "I plead with you, the public, to please get in your boats and make this happen. We need pieces of the plane. We need (the men)."

Gerald Miletello of West Monroe, La., along with Dexter Brewer of Saucier and

pilot Ron Gregory, have been missing since their Lancair single-engine aircraft disappeared Monday afternoon just minutes after taking off from the Million Air terminal at Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport.

Part of the tail was found on an Ocean Springs beach Tuesday morning, and officials had been searching nearby waters.

"Our condolences go out to the friends and family of the missing men," said Capt. Brandon Lechthaler of Coast Guard Sector Mobile. "Suspending a search is a difficult decision to make. Our goal for every search-and-rescue mission is to find survivors and return them to their loved ones."

Lechthaler said the pilot did not make a mayday radio call.

According to a press release, the Coast Guard and response crews covered more than 3,500 square miles searching for Miletello, Brewer and Gregory.

Lechthaler said the area crews searched was "larger than the state of Delaware."

The Department of Marine Resources will continue to search for the missing men through Thursday.

The Jackson County Sheriff's Department called off their searches for the men, according to the Coast Guard.

But the sheriff's department said in a release it has received many calls from residents offering to help in the search.

"If you want to volunteer in the search efforts it will be greatly appreciated," Sheriff Mike Ezell said in the release.

Anyone who finds debris is asked not touch it or attempt to retrieve it. Call the Sheriff's Department at 769-3063 or the DMR at 374-5000.

Coast Guard crews that participated in the search are from Pascagoula, Gulfport, New Orleans and Mobile.

Coast Guard boats and a helicopter, as well as DMR and Sheriff's Department personnel, had been looking for survivors.

Coast Guard spokesman Jonathan Lally said boaters searched throughout Tuesday night, but didn't find anything new.

The Sun Herald will continue to update this story as news develops.

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