JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - This is an active search and rescue mission. That was the message from Mississippi Department of Marine Resources and U.S. Coast Guard officials Tuesday afternoon.
Crews are still working to locate three men who were involved in a plane crash early Tuesday morning. Officials held a news conference at the Coast Guard station in Pascagoula to let everyone know that they have not given up the search.
"Still in a search and rescue mission," said DMR Marine Patrol Chief Keith Davis. "We have currently several assets assigned to this rescue operation that we are involved in."
"Currently searching for survivors. We were notified yesterday evening. Launched immediately," said Coast Guard Capt. Brandon Lechthaler. "We've launched additional assets and boats from Pascagoula. We are currently actively searching and will continue to search for survivors."
The small plane went missing over Jackson County around midnight Monday. The flight first came in from Ruston, LA, then landed at Million Air in Gulfport to pick up a contractor.
The plane took off from Million Air with three men on board at 12:22 p.m. to make the three hour flight to Summerville, SC. Four minutes later, something went catastrophically wrong.
According to the track log found on flightaware.com, the Houston Center tower lost radar contact with the aircraft at 12:26 p.m. The plane was no longer transmitting information from cockpit computers to air traffic controllers.
According to the track log, the plane was at 2,100 feet, traveling at 151 mph before it suddenly disappeared off radar screens.
Exactly 21 hours later, debris from the aircraft washed up on Belle Fontaine Beach in Ocean Springs. Tim Waugh, a Gautier driftwood artist, found the first piece of debris and called the Jackson County Sheriff's Department.
"I was there beach combing, getting ready for the Peter Anderson Festival to find driftwood and spotted part of the tail in the water, and I Googled it and called the sheriff's department," said Waugh. "I saw it on the news right before I left the house, and within 30 minutes I saw it. Had I not watched the news, I might have just gone by it with not thought much of it. I realized it was part of an aircraft and realized it must have been the one they're looking for."
Tina Cook told WLOX News her husband, Dexter Brewer, was on the missing plane. Brewer is a contractor from Saucier. Members of Brewer's family tell us Gerald Miletello was the other passenger on the plane. Coast Guard officials have identified the pilot as Ron Gregory.
Brewer and Miletello work for RMR Mechanical. Brewer is a project manager with the company and Miletello is the company's vice president.
Crews with the Coast Guard, DMR, Jackson County Sheriff's Flotilla and others are assisting in the search. Cell phone pings led them to search around Bayou Cassotte.
So far, no survivors have been found.