LUDINGTON, Mich. — A doctor who apparently perished with three others in a medical flight crash wrote a goodbye note to all their families and friends seven minutes before their plane plummeted into Lake Michigan.
Dr. James Hall stuffed the note into his medical bag as the Cessna's engine was failing Friday morning.
Authorities rescued the plane's pilot and recovered the doctors bag with the note inside, but they gave up hope of finding alive the four people missing since the plane went down while flying a cancer patient to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
Hall's wife, Ann Hall, read then note by phone to The Morning Sun newspaper's website on Saturday.
“We love you. We lost power over the middle (of) Lake Michigan and turning back.
“We are praying to God that all (will) be taken care of.
“We love you. Jim.”
Ann Hall said the note may bring comfort to all the people who knew them.
It’s clear, she said, that the message is from the group and not written for just one person.
Besides Dr. Hall, Alma School Superintendent Don Pavlik, his wife, Irene Pavlik, and co-pilot Earl Davidson were still missing after Friday’s crash. All are from Alma, a central Michigan town 150 miles northwest of Detroit.
Pilot Jerry Freed, 66, was released from the hospital Saturday.
After combing the area several miles off the west Michigan coast for 27 hours, rescuers concluded there was little chance anyone else had survived, said Petty Officer Brandon Blackwell of the U.S. Coast Guard's district headquarters in Cleveland.
"We can resume a search if credible information is received that persons missing may be alive," Blackwell told The Associated Press. "At this point, we saturated an area that's approximately 1,000 square miles ... and we've turned up nothing."
Don Pavlik was diagnosed earlier this year with cancer of the esophagus, said Tony Costanzo, the school board's vice president. Freed and Davidson had offered to fly Pavlik to Mayo for treatment, he said. Hall went along to help his ailing friend, Costanzo said.
Freed was released from the Memorial Medical Center in Ludington Saturday afternoon, hospital spokesman Bill Kerans said. He said Freed was denying interview requests.
The plane took off from Alma about 9 a.m. Friday. Less than an hour later, Freed reported mechanical problems to the air traffic control tower in Minneapolis, said the Federal Aviation Administration, which was investigating the crash.
Battling a strong headwind over the lake, Freed decided to return to Michigan, the emergency management office said in a statement. It said the passengers were prepared for an emergency landing.
Freed's wife, Carol, told the Ludington Daily News her husband had checked the plane Thursday in preparation for the trip and had no concerns. She told the AP that Jerry Freed had flown many people to the Mayo Clinic over the years.
The lake's surface temperature was an estimated 68 degrees Friday and waves were 2 to 4 feet, authorities said.
Mason County Undersheriff Tom Trenner said Saturday that prospects weren't good for surviving more than a day in such chilly water.
State police dive teams used sonar devices to find the sunken plane.
The U.S. and Canadian Coast Guards provided helicopters and fixed-wing planes for the search. Coast Guard boats were joined by vessels from the Mason and Oceana County sheriff's departments and Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment, along with number of volunteer boaters.
The search had gone on throughout Friday night. A bright moon and powerful searchlights gave crews a good view of the water's surface, said Coast Guard Petty Officer Chris Legard, who was aboard a 25-foot craft based in Ludington.
The water was choppy early in the evening but grew calm later, Legard said.
If any survivors "were close to us, we would have been able to see them," he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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