JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - After several days of intense searching, the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources is preparing to switch gears in its search for three men who were involved in a plane crash on Monday. DMR Executive Director Jamie Miller said efforts will transition from a search and rescue mission to a search and recovery mission at sundown Thursday.
Dexter Brewer, Gerald Miletello and Ron Gregory have been missing since the plane went down sometime after 12:26 p.m. Monday. Officials have confirmed Gregory was piloting the plane, but what led to the crash is still under investigation.
Crews with 15 state and local agencies have spent the past three days searching for wreckage and survivors in the Mississippi Sound.
The first pieces of debris started washing ashore on Belle Fontaine beach in Ocean Springs on Tuesday morning. Search parties have continued to pull pieces of the plane from the water, but there have been no signs of the three men.
The U.S. Coast Guard suspended its search Wednesday, but Miller said his department decided to keep up the search and rescue mission for another day.
"It's our commitment to bring closure regardless of outcome," said Miller.
DMR Marine Patrol Chief Keith Davis said crews started using sonar in an attempt to locate wreckage at the bottom of the Mississippi Sound. He said several citizens brought out their own private boats to assist in the search.
"The family, yesterday, asked recreational boaters to go out. We don't control that. We ask other boaters take notice of our efforts and we are running sonar, and to just be aware that their presence does effect sonar capabilities," said Miller.