"Pending DNA results, I believe our coroner's investigation is over," a sheriff's official says

By Howard Breuer
October 30, 2008 07:50 PM
Charlie Riedel/AP

Searchers found skeletal remains believed to be those of adventurer Steve Fossett near the wreckage of his plane in the High Sierras.

“Pending DNA results, I believe our coroner’s investigation is over and the Fossett family will finally have closure,” Madera County Sheriff John Anderson said Thursday.

Searchers in the rugged terrain southeast of Yosemite found the remains along with a pair of tennis shoes, credit cards and Fossett’s Illinois driver’s license.

Fossett, 63, the first person to fly solo nonstop around the world in a balloon, disappeared Sept. 3, 2007, after taking off in a single-engine plane borrowed from a Nevada ranch owned by Barron Hilton.

A judge declared Fossett legally dead in February, although no one knew what happened to the wealthy explorer’s plane until Sept. 29, when Preston Morrow, manager of a Mammoth Lakes ski shop, stumbled upon three pieces of Fossett’s ID and 10 muddy hundred-dollar bills while hiking.

The National Transportation Safety Board is examining the plane wreckage to determine the cause of the crash. NTSB Chairman Mark Rosenker said earlier this month that it appeared that the single-engine plane, which was flying at 10,000 feet, crashed head-on into the side of the mountain.