for National Geographic News
Steve Fossett's plane and a tiny amount of human remains have been found in California near Yosemite National Park, officials confirmed today. The millionaire U.S. adventurer has been missing since early September 2007.
The rugged terrain of the eastern Sierra Nevada mountains likely contributed to the crash, which appears to have been a head-on collision, experts said.
The eating habits of animals in the region—including bears, mountain lions, and rodents—probably explain why so few remains have been found, wildlife experts said.
Found Thursday—the day after Fossett's plane wreckage had been discovered—the amount of human remains at the crash site is "very small," Mark Rosenker, acting chairman of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Boad, told the Reuters news agency.
Before the remains had been found, Erica Stuart, the public information officer with the Madera County, California, Sheriff's Department, had said, "It's safe to say that any human remains would have been taken by animals."
Disintegrated on Impact
Fossett's aircraft appears to have hit a mountainside near the town of Mammoth Lakes at an elevation of 9,700 feet (3,000 meters) in the Inyo National Forest.
Most of the plane's fuselage disintegrated on impact, authorities said.
"It was a hard-impact crash, and he would've died instantly," Jeff Page, emergency-management coordinator for Lyon County, Nevada, who assisted with the search, told the Associated Press.
Three identification cards belonging to Fossett were discovered in the area on Monday by a local hiker walking his dog.
Preston Morrow had veered off a trail in a meadow about 7 miles (11 kilometers) from Mammoth Lakes.
Searchers began combing the rough terrain on Wednesday. They soon found the wreckage about a quarter of a mile (half a kilometer) from where Morrow had found the IDs.
SOURCES AND RELATED WEB SITES