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Teen trying to fly around the world dead, father missing after Pacific crash

Seventeen-year-old Haris Suleman dead, father missing after attempt to fly around the world ends in crash
Seventeen-year-old Haris Suleman dead, father missing after attempt to fly around the world ends in crash

A teenager attempting to be the youngest pilot to fly a plane around the world is dead and his father remains missing after their single-engine airplane crashed into the sea near a remote Pacific Ocean island.

U.S Coast Guard officials say the Beechcraft Bonanza piloted by 17-year-old Haris Suleman crashed about one mile from shore near Pago Pago International Airport Tuesday night.

The Coast Guard said in a statement after the crash the teen was was found “unresponsive” by the American Samoa Marine Patrol.

Suleman was accompanied by his father during the flight -- 58-year-old Babar Suleman. He has not been found.

Family member Hiba Suleman, the teen’s sister, said in a posting on her Facebook page that the plane went down after taking off from the airport.

“Before the news breaks,” she wrote on her page Wednesday, “I'd like to thank everyone for their support of my father and brother throughout this trip, as well as for the support given to my mom, brother and myself as we waited for their safe return.”

After the crash, an American Samoa Marine Patrol boat and and a Coast Guard HC-130 patrol plane sent from Hawaii continued to search the ocean for the older Suleman.

"The Coast Guard would like to express our thoughts and prayers to the family and friends of the Sulemans," Michael Cobb, command duty officer at Joint Rescue Coordination Center in Honolulu, said in a statement. "We will continue to do our best to locate Mr. Babar Suleman."

The teen and his father had left their home state of Indiana on June 19 in hopes of making the trip in 30 days in attempt to set the record for the fastest circumnavigation of the world by the youngest pilot in a single-engine 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 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.”

A donor on the site posted late Wednesday, ”God bless you both. We are heartbroken to hear about the accident and want to contribute just a little towards the good cause.”

The father and son were expected to return home to Indiana this weekend.

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