October 30, 2008
By Alton K. Marsh
Newly discovered bone fragments found at the crash site of adventurer Steve Fossett on Oct. 29 are believed to be human, according to California’s Madera County Sheriff John P. Anderson. The fragments will now be tested for DNA that could link them to Fossett. Testing had been inconclusive, or negative, on fragments found earlier in October.
“Pending DNA results, I believe our coroner’s investigation is over and the Fossett family will finally have closure,” Anderson said.
To make certain a thorough search was conducted before the winter season set in, three Madera County Sheriff’s deputies, along with five volunteers from the Mono County Sheriff’s search and rescue team, returned to the site one last time on Oct. 29. Before the day was over, the recovery team found a number of items that include: skeletal remains (bones), a pair of tennis shoes, credit cards, and Steve Fossett’s Illinois state driver’s license.
The bones found Oct. 29—a little over a half-mile east of the Steve Fossett crash site in the Ansel Adams Wildreness—are believed to be human.
There were no remains found when searches combed through the crash site on Oct. 2, although they did extract what initially appeared to be a single bone fragment that day. On the following day, search crews found three more thumbnail-sized specimens after the wreckage of the plane had been removed. An anthropologist analyzed the pieces discovered that day, along with the first four fragments found earlier in the month. He was able to rule out all but two.
Unable to determine whether or not those two bones were human, Anderson had them delivered to a state forensics lab to test for human DNA profiling. The results were inconclusive.
AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Alton Marsh has been a pilot since 1970 and has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates, aerobatic training, and a commercial seaplane certificate.
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