October 2nd, 2008
06:38 PM ET

Fossett mystery unraveling

[cnn-photo-caption image=
http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/02/art.vert.fossett9.jpg caption="PHOTO OF STEVE FOSSETT’S PLANE CRASH WRECKAGE " width=292 height=320]
Dan Simon
CNN Correspondent

More than a thousand volunteers last year scoured 20 thousand square miles to find evidence of Steve Fossett’s airplane in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. Yet, all it took was a lone hiker to solve the mystery.

Preston Morrow, a manager of sporting goods store in Mammoth Lakes, California, discovered Fossett’s pilot license and two other pieces of identification while hiking with his dog. He also found a thousand dollars in cash. Morrow didn’t recognize Fossett’s name right away, so it took a few days before authorities got involved. But hours after search crews looked in the area where Morrow made his find, they found Fossett’s plane.

Authorities say it was clear no one could have survived the crash. It appeared Fossett’s plane slammed into the side of a mountain. NTSB chairman Mark Rosenker says a "very little" amount of human remains were found in the wreckage.

The NTSB is treating the crash as an accident, which means they don’t suspect sabotage or anything else suspect. Crash investigators are often able to pinpoint what exactly happened, but the Fossett case may prove too difficult. The plane is in a million pieces, and it has been exposed to harsh outdoor elements for more than a year. No witnesses observed the crash, and the plane doesn’t have a black box.

Fossett’s wife said she is looking forward to closing the investigation into her husband's death. However, the family must have mixed emotions, and are probably reliving the tragedy. Conspiracy theorists have written on various “conspiracy” websites that Fossett faked his own death. The wreckage might finally put those rumors to rest.

There’s also the question about a reward. When Fossett disappeared, his friends and family offered substantial money to anyone who helped solve the mystery. It’s unclear if those offers are still on the table. What do you think? Should the hiker be compensated for his discovery?

Here are more pictures from the crash:



Filed under: 360° Radar • Dan Simon
soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. debbiem

    I'm sorry for the family's loss. I thought for sure he was alive and wandering the mountains with amnesia or something. So sad. A great loss.

    As for the reward, yes, I think the hitchhiker should receive the reward money if it was never taken off the table. Whether by accident or a deliberate find, the mystery is solved.

    Again, my heart goes out to the family in their time of loss.

    October 3, 2008 at 12:41 pm |
  2. Tina

    ...If the Fossett family never removed the Reward, then they should do the right thing– Offer Mr. Morrow the monies. However, Mr. Morrow should do the right thing as well, and decline. He did not go out of his way to search for Mr. Fossett; he came across the area during a hike. Why would anyone feel the need to be compensated over another family's tragedy?

    October 2, 2008 at 11:25 pm |
  3. Apple

    Palin sounds like a scratched record!!

    Should every other mother or mother of special need children run for VP?
    Maybe we should get some mooses to vote for her....?

    October 2, 2008 at 10:21 pm |
  4. Palash Sarkar

    Palin is awesome.. More than qualified to be a cheerleader.. But think Joe should be the coach this time around.. He is a true politician who might be able to make a diference..


    October 2, 2008 at 10:16 pm |
  5. Jeff

    Where is Dick Cheney, the V-P of the Unites States???

    October 2, 2008 at 10:15 pm |
  6. lindaM

    Biden won tonight, she was trained and memorize the same answer for all the questions and you can tell she would not answer the questions right, she talks as if she is a disney character. Too much slang and only k nows about alaska , she was irresponsible, and lies just likke McCain please wake up people she is not realy to lead our country,Biden was artuiculare and stuck with answer.

    October 2, 2008 at 10:00 pm |
  7. Maggie McMenamin

    unless there was a time limit on the offer to monitarily award anyone who could help solve the mystery off Fossett's dissapearance, and I don't recall reading that there was, the hiker should most definately recieve the reward money. Geesh, you'd think that having closure would be priceless to his loved ones.....

    October 2, 2008 at 9:57 pm |
  8. Annie Kate

    I'm glad the mystery of what happened to Fossett has been answered. Even though he was declared dead it is still good to know for sure.

    If the rewards are still active the man who found Fossett's id etc. should get it – his find led investigators right to the plane crash and what remains there were.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    October 2, 2008 at 9:49 pm |