Pilot in Mysterious Plane Crash Was Likely Suicidal

Authorities have identified the pilot as 27-year-old Xin Rong
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 25, 2017 9:59 AM CDT
Pilot Who Disappeared Before Plane Crash ID'd
Stock image   (Getty Images/sh_yaniv)

Authorities have identified the pilot whose plane mysteriously crashed with no one inside it earlier this month and say he was likely suicidal, Huffington Post reports. Xin Rong, a 27-year-old doctoral student from the University of Michigan, rented the Cessna from Ann Arbor Municipal Airport on March 15 and took off from Ann Arbor around 7pm, according to the Chronicle Journal. Authorities say he was heading to Harbor Springs, Michigan, but the plane crashed in the woods of Ontario, Canada, shortly before midnight after flying approximately 480 miles. There was no sign of Rong anywhere near the crash site, and his body still hasn't been found. Authorities believe the plane was on autopilot and crashed after running out of fuel.

Police in Michigan had been searching for Rong as a missing person, but that search has been called off, as has the search involving the crashed plane. Authorities say they "have reasons to believe" Rong, a former Google and Microsoft employee, was planning suicide when he took off in the Cessna. But they aren't giving any further details "out of respect for his family, classmates, and colleagues." Authorities say Rong wasn't in the plane when it crashed. "When [Rong] exited, and how [Rong] exited, is still a mystery," one investigator says. Canadian authorities say there is no reason to believe Rong is still alive, MLive reports. (More plane crash stories.)

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