Carlton County sheriff says missing plane, body found in river

May 09, 2019 06:08 PM

Authorities in Carlton County searching for a plane that missed its expected arrival time say they found it in a nearby river, along with a man's body.

At about 8 p.m. Wednesday, Carlton and Pine county officials received a call from the Federal Aviation Administration that a plane from the Moose Lake Carlton County Airport with a departure time of 4:30 p.m. failed to arrive at its Crystal Airport destination.


The planea Mooney model M20J single-engine airplane with tail number of N111JP and registered to Club Cherokee, Inc.was scheduled to land at 5:15 p.m., authorities stated.

Officials were initially unable to find the plane after a search of the Cloquet, Moose Lake and Hinckley airports Wednesday. Meanwhile, officials said the plane was not detected on radar at either the Duluth or Minneapolis-St. Paul International airports.

RELATED: Chopper 5: Authorities locate missing plane on northern Minnesota river

The Carlton and Pine county sheriff's offices conducted an initial land search in the immediate area surrounding Moose Lake Airport. The St. Louis County Rescue Squad, Minnesota State Patrol, Civil Air Patrol and Moose Lake and Willow River fire departments assisted in the search. Authorities said weather conditions prevented them from conducting an initial airborne search.

Thursday mid-morning, a KSTP crew at the search scene in Moose Lake reported officials found the plane in a nearby river.

Thursday during a news conference, Carlton County Sheriff Kelly Lake said authorities did not actually ever receive confirmation the plane left Moose Lake Carlton County Airport.

Lake said at about 7 a.m. Thursday, authorities found the plane at the northwest end of the runway at Moose Lake Carlton County Airport, partially submerged in the river.

A rescue squad and sheriff's deputies recovered a man's body from the scene and Lake said the man was identified as being 65-year-old Thomas Stillwell, of Plymouth.

An autopsy is currently underway, Lake said.

The flying club Stillwell belonged to issued the following statement: 

The Minnesota aviation community is a close-knit family, and any time there is an aircraft incident, we are all affected. Today, Club Cherokee has experienced a terrible loss in our family. The pilot flying N111JP was a long-standing and highly regarded member of Club Cherokee. We would like to express our sincere condolences to his family and friends.

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Rebecca Omastiak

Copyright 2019 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company


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