The U.S. Coast Guard has suspended the search for the father of a teenage pilot, who has been missing since their plane crashed in the Pacific Ocean last week.
Rescue crews have been looking for 58-year-old Babar Suleman since the plane he and his son, 17-year-old Haris Suleman, were flying went down Tuesday night. Multiple agencies have searched 4,874 square nautical miles for about 70 hours but have found no sign of Babar Suleman, a U.S. Coast Guard news release said.
By suspending the search, the Coast Guard will stop actively looking for Babar Suleman unless any evidence is found that he’s still alive, Coast Guard public affairs specialist Melissa McKenzie said.
Searchers found part of the plane and the body of Haris Suleman shortly after the crash last week off the coast of American Samoa. Searchers had been looking for the teen’s father since.
Rescue crews consider multiple factors before deciding to suspend a search, including weather conditions, visibility, whether the person they’re looking for was wearing rescue gear and whether they had any medical conditions, McKenzie said.
Before ending the search for Suleman, officials also considered that searchers have found survival suits and life jackets in the water, along with severely damaged pieces of the plane, McKenzie said.
“It’s never an easy decision; it’s always extremely difficult,” McKenzie said.
Weather conditions during the search had been mixed. Rescue crews had limited visibility and high surf some days, while other days the skies were clear and the water was calmer, McKenzie said.
“The decision to suspend a search and rescue case is one of the most difficult decisions I have to make,” Rear Adm. Cari Thomas, Commander of the 14th Coast Guard District said in a news release. “I want to extend my sincere condolences to the family and friends of the Sulemans. After conducting an exhaustive search with our partner agencies in American Samoa and crisscrossing more than 4,000 miles from the air and surface of the ocean and finding no sign of Mr. Suleman, I have made the decision to suspend the active search.”
The Coast Guard will consider Babar Suleman missing until he is found, McKenzie said.
The Sulemans left Greenwood Municipal Airport last month and had planned to return home last weekend. The pair was trying to fly around the world in 30 days, while also raising $1 million to build schools in Pakistan.