January 12th, 2009
08:22 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Plane Crash Mystery

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/01/12/florida.plane.crash/art.missing.pilot.atgeist.jpg caption="Marcus Schrenker exited his small plane before it crashed, and investigators are looking for him, police say."]
Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

We're following a strange story out of Florida. Investigators believe a pilot in financial trouble has tried to fake his own death and risked his life to do it.

The pilot, Marcus Schrenker, 38, parachuted out of a small plane that crashed into a swamp, according to the Santa Rosa County Sheriff's Office.

Schrenker was flying solo in a Piper turboprop from Indiana to Destin, Florida. But near Birmingham, Alabama, he made a distress call and told air traffic controllers his plane's windshield shattered and said he was bleeding profusely.

He then turned on his autopilot and contact was lost with the plane.

That's when military jets were called to intercept the plane. They found the Piper empty, the door open and the cockpit dark.

The jets followed the empty plane until it crashed in Florida.

When rescue workers arrived at the crash site the pilot was missing, but not for long.

Investigators say the pilot was seen more than 200 miles away in Childersburg, Alabama. He went up to a cop at a store, wearing goggles, and claimed he was in a canoe accident that left his clothes wet from the knees down. The cops took Schrenker to a hotel.

When police found out about the plane crash in Florida they went back to the hotel to find Schrenker gone.

Investigators say he checked into the hotel under a fake name, paid for his room in cash, and later ran into the woods and has vanished.

Why is he on the run?

We'll have the latest developments tonight on AC360°.

We'll also have new details on the war in Gaza and the raw politics of President Bush's last news conference.

Hope you can join us for all that and more tonight at 10pm E.T.

Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. Tanya Gooden

    I am in Jamaica, and it is amazing to see the effect that the economic situation has on individuals. I am now wondering what is going through his mind the fact that he knows that the his stunt did not work ...maybe he is trying to make his own double jeopardy.

    January 13, 2009 at 10:19 am |
  2. Alex (Aliso Viejo)

    If you are attemtpting to fake your death and is supposed to be bleeding profusely, the least you can do is cut your self a bit and let some drop of blood flow for visual effect. *Sigh*

    January 13, 2009 at 5:11 am |
  3. kelly

    this guy is really crazy. he was going to do something sooner or later. do not feel sorry for him. he has scammed everyone to live a very lavish lifestyle. This has nothing to do with the economy. he has always been a crook and crazy.

    January 13, 2009 at 12:22 am |
  4. Gerry Kolb

    It truly amazes me that there are so many that could only hope to have an easier life than nonsense like this hustler faking his death...are you kidding me, I've known many who still try so hard to survive even with all the stats against them....yet they continue striving, let alone someone so greedy and selfish ( wife, business and a pilot)
    True definition of a loser...mostly great kudos to the aircrafts trying to save the loser.
    Sorry buddy, I am quite sure many will not have too much mercy for you!

    January 12, 2009 at 11:43 pm |
  5. sunny

    It's unfortunate that people will go to such lengths to escape their responsibility. What happend to living within your means and being responsible for your actions.

    January 12, 2009 at 11:32 pm |
  6. marcus s.

    I doubt it is just poor that is amking him do this. Sometimes when you crash you take others with you....

    January 12, 2009 at 11:06 pm |
  7. Mouhamad A. Naboulsi

    Why did he run?

    He is a pilot so he must know how to read!. Just Look at Madof and the CEOs of Country Wide and others. They stole so much money it can count for half of Africa's GNP, but I do not see them running.

    He should get him self a good lawyer and he'll probably end up getting a bailout.

    What a foul....

    January 12, 2009 at 10:56 pm |
  8. Lauren Conley

    You know what I don't get? That people would do these things all because they fear being poor. Like they would rather be dead, than poor! What an sad indication of our society! And what an indication that it's past time for us to become more accepting of the less-than-perfect in all of us. The crash of 2008 will make us stronger, not weaker, just as the Great Depression made "the Greatest Generation" exactly that.

    January 12, 2009 at 10:45 pm |
  9. Catrina Teach

    I assumed that he staged his on death. Search crews wasted their time looking for him. 200 miles away in Alabama, he sits. Very much alive. Disappeared again? It's a matter of time before he is caught.

    January 12, 2009 at 10:35 pm |
  10. Barrett Burandt

    If this isn't a sign that times are tough, I don't know what is.

    January 12, 2009 at 9:52 pm |
  11. Annie Kate

    Fake his death or just go off his rocker? Financial troubles can make people do crazy things. I just hope for his sake that whatever caused him to behave this way is treatable and not criminal.

    Looking forward to hearing about Bush's last press conference. Its really getting close now isn't it? Just 9 more days until Obama can be called Mr. President. I can hardly wait.

    January 12, 2009 at 9:40 pm |
  12. steven epstein

    i bet hes tied into madoff somehow. or scammed many out of millions and figured times almost up so he ran.

    January 12, 2009 at 9:30 pm |