Crews discover body during search for missing plane and three passengers

Friends urge rescuers not to give up hope
Posted at 4:36 AM, Feb 13, 2017

UPDATE | Feb. 14, 5:45 p.m.-- The Coast Guard will suspend its search at sunset for the missing Brooksville family near Cedar Key.

"It is with a heavy heart and our deepest condolences that we make the decision to suspend the search this evening," said Capt. Holly Najarian, Sector St. Petersburg commander.  "We keep the family and friends of these three individuals in our thoughts and prayers as they go through this difficult time."

UPDATE | Crews have confirmed that they recovered a body during the search for the missing plane and the three passengers. No further details have been released. We will update you as soon as we get more information. 

ORIGINAL STORY | The search for a small plane and its three passengers enters its second day on Tuesday. 

Rescue crews are searching for wreckage and possible survivors off the coast of Cedar Key. 

As of Monday night, crews found a debris field and a seat but there was no sign of the plane or the passengers. 

Officials say the Piper Cherokee single-engine plane with a red and blue stripe and tail number of N4504X, was flying from Brooksville to Cedar Key, scheduled to land by noon on Sunday. 

At approximately 5 p.m. on Sunday evening, a call came in for an overdue aircraft.

65-year-old Jasper Jerrels, his fiancé Hue Singletary and Jerrels' 17-year-old son were aboard the plane.

"It is unimaginable that I might never see my friend again, but I don't believe that, so, I'm keeping faith," Patty Chandler said. Chandler said she was Singletary's last client Saturday. Singletary has been cutting her hair for more than two decades. Chandler said she flew often with her fiancé and loved taking short trips around the state.

She said all three are fighters, and if they survived the crash they are just waiting to be rescued.

"Please keep looking. Do not give up. They won't give up. They are out there floating or wading or injured they are not going to give up so please don't give up on them," Chandler said. 

At 11:07 a.m. on Sunday, the plane was 7 miles south of the destination, but that was the last anyone heard from them. 

“The area is approximately 150 square miles that its grown to overnight basically the size of the city of Tampa,” said Coast Guard Commander Randall Brown.

Crews battled through fog on Sunday night into Monday morning as they searched for any sign of the plane or the passengers. 

There were no reports of distress made by the aircraft on Sunday. 

An MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from Air Station Clearwater and a 27-foot Special Purpose Craft-Shallow Water boat crew from Station Yankeetown launched and started the search.  

Florida Fish and Wildlife officers and local crews in Cedar Key are also searching for the crew and plane. 



“I’ve done a lot of flying in that plane with Jasper and its kind of a shock to be very honest,” said family friend John Brown.

“He was a very safe pilot. He took a lot of care with his plane. Its really shocking to me that this has happened. I’m not sure what happened,” said Brown. “Jasper and I have both had water survival training. I’m not sure what we are going to find right now. But if used his water survival training he might have survived.”



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