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This photo provided by the U.S. Coast Guard shows an MU-28 airplane, the type of aircraft Nathan Ulrich of Lee had been flying. (Courtesy US Coast Guard Southeast)

Search for plane piloted by Lee man suspended


MIAMI — Coast Guard officials on Thursday night suspended the search for a Lee pilot and three others in a plane that went off the radar Monday in the Bermuda Triangle.

On Wednesday, searchers had matched debris found 15 miles east of Eleuthera, Bahamas with an MU-28 airplane, the same model that Nathan Ulrich, 52, had been flying. New York fashion industry executive Jennifer Blumin, 40, and her two sons, 3 and 4 years old, were aboard.

"This was a swift and significant loss and its impact has reverberated through everyone that participated in the search," Christopher Eddy, the search and rescue mission coordinator, said in a statement.

"Our hearts and prayers go out to all of the families involved."

A phalanx of Coast Guard airplanes and the Coast Guard Cutter Bernard C. Webber searched an area larger than the state of Massachusetts over 75 hours, Eddy said.

The Miami Air Traffic Control office reported that it had lost radio and radar contact with the plane Ulrich was flying Monday at 2:10 p.m. Monday.

The plane had departed Borinquen, Puerto Rico, at 11 a.m. and had been headed to Titusville, Fla.

A National Transportation Safety Board accident investigator has been assigned to this case to determine the probable cause of the accident, officials said.

Blumin is CEO of Skylight Group, which provides event space around New York City.

The debris pieces were spotted by a helicopter crew Tuesday and a rescue swimmer retrieved materials to take ashore for identification.

Coast Guard officials said part of a seat and an air intake plug were found, along with a fuel slick within the debris field.

According to Ulrich's Facebook page, he's single, a graduate of Oyster River High School, a former scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, a former pilot with the Coast Guard Auxiliary on Cape Cod and the co-founder of Xootr, a New York-based company that manufactures scooters and folding bicycles.

klandrigan@unionleader.com