Search of Lake Erie resumes for missing plane that carried UW-Madison student, 5 others

Searchers: Debris found looks like missing plane
Search of Lake Erie resumes for missing plane that carried UW-Madison student, 5 others
Megan Casey

A University of Wisconsin-Madison freshman is one of the six people missing after a private plane crashed in Lake Erie near Cleveland last week, according to a release from UW.

Megan Casey, 19, of Powell, Ohio, was at a Cleveland Cavaliers game with her father, Brian, and four neighbors from the Columbus area, officials said. The group was returning home when their twin-engine plane apparently crashed into the lake shortly after takeoff.

The plane has not yet been found, but the U.S. Coast Guard is continuing to search for it after baggage and debris washed ashore.

Cleveland officials said Tuesday morning that the search for the plane had resumed. Tuesday marks the third straight day that conditions have allowed recovery teams to search the lake.

Cleveland officials said the search will continue until the aircraft is found.

As dive teams continue to search Lake Erie, those who knew the 19-year-old reflect on her life.

“I was shocked. I was absolutely devastated,” Trish Chase, Casey’s former high school rowing coach, said. “This is horrible, horrible news especially for someone that talented and promising.”

During her time at UW, Megan was a resident of University Housing and participated in a sorority. She graduated from Olentangy High School in Dublin, Ohio.

“In the short time she was on our campus, Megan was a friend to many and was pursuing a career in nursing,” Dean of Students and Vice Provost for Student Life Lori Berquam said in the release. “Our thoughts are with her family and friends.”

Cleveland officials searching for a plane carrying six people that disappeared over Lake Erie say more than 120 pieces of debris have been recovered, and many are consistent with the type of aircraft that vanished.

A statement from officials says they’re not sharing details about the debris or its location because it’s part of an active investigation. Only a bag that washed ashore near a private harbor near Cleveland has been confirmed as coming from the plane.

The Columbus-bound Cessna 525 Citation disappeared Thursday night shortly after takeoff from Burke Lakefront Airport. Why remains a mystery.

A business executive was reportedly piloting the plane carrying his wife, two teenage sons and two neighbors, including Casey.

Crews have searched by air and water and along shore.

In a statement from her family, Megan and Brian Casey are described as “loving, caring, remarkable individuals.”

“Our family greatly appreciates the dedicated efforts of the rescue and recovery teams, and we are especially thankful for the outpouring of support thoughts and prayers from family, friends and the community,” the statement reads.

The president of Delta Gamma sorority at UW-Madison posted a statement on the group’s Facebook page Monday night.

“It is with a heavy heart that I share that our beloved sister Megan Casey, Omega-Wisconsin, was on board the aircraft that went missing over Lake Erie on Thursday evening. Officials continue to search for the plane but have declared this a recovery mission and presume there are no survivors in the crash,” Jillian Parks said in the post.

Parks said Casey was a directly admitted freshman to the UW-Madison School of Nursing and she aspired to be a neonatal nurse.

“To be accepted into this early admission program is a highly selective process and an honor. Evidently, she went above and beyond everything she was involved in, setting high goals that she consistently achieved through her tenacious will. Her grit and drive in following her dream as a future nurse were exemplified in her outstanding academic, leadership, and philanthropic strides throughout high school and in her first semester at the University of Wisconsin. Megan shared her large heart with everyone, and her innate selflessness in chasing her dream to be a nurse reflects her endless compassion and love for others.”

The full post can be read online.