The mangled wreckage of the plane being flown by adventurer Steve Fossett when he disappeared has been found, police said, but there was no sign of the millionaire’s body.
Madera County Sheriff John Anderson said the shattered remains of Fossett’s single-engine Bellanca had been spotted during an aerial search of the rugged Sierra Nevada mountains in California late Wednesday.
Rescuers later reached the plane on foot and confirmed it was Fossett’s aircraft but found no human remains at the crash site.
Anderson said photos of the site appeared to indicate that the plane had smashed head-on into a mountainside.
"The crash looked so severe I doubt if someone would have walked away from it," Anderson told reporters. "There was no body in the plane. We have not found any human remains at the crash site."
Fifty searchers and five dog teams will fan out across the area in an effort to find remains of Fossett, who vanished on September 3 last year after taking off on a solo flight from a private airstrip in neighboring Nevada.
Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board will also study the wreckage to determine what may have caused the crash.
Search and rescue teams had started combing the area near Mammoth Lakes on Wednesday after the discovery of aviation identity cards bearing Fossett’s name, a faded fleece sweatshirt and 1,005 dollars cash.
Anderson said the crash site was roughly a quarter of a mile from where the identity cards and cash were found by hiker Preston Morrow.