Widow searching for husband's remains receives dredging permit

Widow searching for husband's remains receives dredging permit

JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Tina Cook has a hole in her heart that may never fully heal. It formed two years ago when a plane disappeared off radar screens, and her husband never came home.

Two years. 730 days. There are moments when the crash feels like it was just yesterday. In other instances, Cook says it feels like so long ago.

The grieving wife admits she's in a better place today because of family and a grief counseling group.

"Thank God for all our friends who had us in their prayers this week," she posted on Facebook Thursday night, the two year anniversary of the crash off the Jackson County coastline. Their comforting words and their support have given her the drive she needs to push forward.

As she pushes ahead with her life, she also can't let go of her past. Two years ago, her husband Dexter Brewer along with Gerald Miletello and Ron Gregory died in a plane crash south of Jackson County. Thursday, Cook visited the spot where a piece of the plane washed ashore. When she got home, she posted her Facebook message.

"No words are necessary. You all know how our family feels today," her post said. "We loved Dexter with all our hearts and there will never be another one like him."

The date was October 26, 2015. The weather was clear at 12:22 p.m. when a plane took off from Million Air in Gulfport with three men on board. Flight logs said that plane was to be in the air for three hours, flying from Gulfport to Summerville, SC.

Four minutes into that journey, something went catastrophically wrong. According to the track log, the plane was at 2,100 feet, traveling at 151 mph before it suddenly disappeared off radar screens.

The only signs of the plane in the immediate aftermath of its disappearance were a small piece of fuselage that washed ashore, and a section of the tail the Coast Guard reportedly found during its initial search. Cook learned about that discovery, she said, from a Coast Guard report she obtained when she filed a Freedom of Information Act form.

Two long years after the crash, the grieving wife has not given up her search efforts.

"Of course not," she said a day after marking the anniversary of the plane crash.

Cook's search team includes two other family members and a diver. The quartet still believes the cockpit containing her husband and two others can be located.  That's why she applied for and received a dredging permit.

In time, she'll coordinate that dredging effort with the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources. That agency, she noted, has been quite helpful during multiple search and diving expeditions.

"If we dig this last time and we don't find anything," she said, "I don't know what we'll do."

What's become obvious to Cook and her team is digging is the only way they'll find the wreckage. Recent storms that raced through South Mississippi and churned up the Gulf of Mexico reinforced Cook's belief the cockpit is not sitting on the bottom of the water. She's certain it's buried in mud and sediment south of Jackson County.

"If it isn't here," she said again, "I don't know what to do."

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