Officials have called off the search for an Indiana man who disappeared after the single-engine plane his teenage son was piloting crashed into the Pacific Ocean after taking off from an island airport.
The 58-year-old Suleman and his son, 17-year-old Haris Suleman, were on a journey to fly around the globe in their Beechcraft Bonanza when the plane crashed into the ocean after taking off from Pago Pago International Airport late Tuesday night.
“The decision to suspend a search and rescue case is one of the most difficult decisions I have to make,” Rear Admiral Cari Thomas, Commander, Fourteenth Coast Guard District, said in a statement Sunday.
“I want to extend my sincere condolences to the family and friends of the Sulemans. After conducting an exhaustive search with our partner agencies in American Samoa and crisscrossing more than 4,000 miles from the air and surface of the ocean and finding no sign of Mr. Suleman, I have made the decision to suspend the active search,” the statement said.
Haris Suleman was found dead by an American Samoa Marine Patrol crew shortly after the crash.
The father and son left their home state of Indiana on June 19 with Haris trying to set a record for the fastest circumnavigation of the world by the youngest pilot in a single-engine plane.
Expected back home this weekend, the quest came to a tragic ending when their plane went down in the ocean about a mile offshore from the idyllic island.
During the search for the older Suleman crews recovered some debris, including sections of the fuselage, life jackets and components of the plane.
The Sulemans were using the trip to raise money for the Citizens Foundation, a nonprofit that builds schools in Pakistan. Family members said they had raised more than $500,000.
A description of the trip on the donation website gofundme.com noted that 60 percent of the trip was “over large expanses of water that includes the Atlantic, the Pacific and lesser portions of the Indian Ocean as well.
The cause of the crash has not been determined.