Search continues for plane lost over Lake Michigan in 1950

Volunteers continue searching for Northwest Orient Airlines flight 2501

DETROIT – Early in the morning of June 24, 1950, a Northwest Orient Airlines plane crashed into Lake Michigan.

Leo Wooler was among the 58 people killed. His daughter, Darlene Larson, still remembers.

"I was awoken by my mother's crying. She did her best to try to tell me what had happened, that my father was gone and would not be coming back," she said.

The crash of flight 2501 was, at the time, America's worst civilian aviation disaster. The DC-4 was heading from New York to Minneapolis when a storm had developed over Lake Michigan.

Valerie van Heest authored the book "Fatal Crossing." She said two days after the crash debris and human remains reached the shore near South Haven, Mich. The airline and the government called off the search after five days.

"Ultimately, finding that plane on the bottom of the lake would provide the final answers, and that's what we hope can happen with the Malaysia Airlines accident. We need answers," said van Heest.

She said the pilot was flying 25 miles south of his planned route. In his last radio communication he asked permission to fly at a lower altitude and was denied.

Volunteers continue the search -- 600 square miles of Lake Michigan have been covered with sonar and magnetometers but nothing has been found.

"I was certain that he was wandering around the streets of Chicago with amnesia and he would one day realize where he was and come home," said Larson.

The names of the dead appear above a grave of unidentified remains. Laron's mother never remarried. In honor of her husband, her ashes were scattered over the lake.

Volunteers will resume the search later this year. Debris could help provide clues.