Debris Field Discovered After Private Plane Carrying 4 People, Including High-End Designer Mom and 2 Kids From NYC, Vanishes Near Bahamas - NBC New York

Debris Field Discovered After Private Plane Carrying 4 People, Including High-End Designer Mom and 2 Kids From NYC, Vanishes Near Bahamas

The plane was en route from Puerto Rico to the small city of Titusville on the east coast of Florida when authorities lost contact Monday

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Search and rescue teams are scouring the waters off of the Bahamas for a missing New York family. Checkey Beckford reports.

    (Published Wednesday, May 17, 2017)

    What to Know

    • A Coast Guard statement says air traffic control in Miami lost radar and radio contact with the twin-engine plane east of Eleuthera

    • The plane was en route from Puerto Rico to the small city of Titusville on the east coast of Florida when authorities lost contact Monday

    • The people on board the plane were identified as Jennifer Blumin and her young sons, all from NY, and Nathan Ulrich of New Hampshire

    UPDATE: Search for Vanished Plane Carrying NYC Designer, Young Sons Stretches Into 3rd Day

    A debris field was discovered as the U.S. Coast Guard searched for a small private plane carrying a high-end New York City event space designer, her two young boys and a pilot from New Hampshire that disappeared near the Bahamas, officials said Tuesday. 

    The debris field was found 15 miles east of Eleuthera, Bahamas, on Tuesday, the Coast Guard said. The debris wasn't confirmed to be from the missing plane and the U.S. Coast Guard said it's continuing to search for survivors. 

    The twin-engine MU-2B with Skylight Group founder and CEO Jennifer Blumin, her 3-year-old and 4-year-old sons and pilot Nathan Ulrich, ex-husband of actress Rae Dawn Chong, left Puerto Rico around 11:30 a.m. Monday and was headed to Titusville, along Florida's northeastern coast, when air traffic control lost contact, the Coast Guard said. 

    Plane Vanishes With NYC Family Aboard

    [NY] Plane Vanishes With NYC Family Aboard

    The people on board the plane were identified as Jennifer Blumin and her young sons, all from NY, and Nathan Ulrich of New Hampshire. Erica Byfield reports.

    (Published Tuesday, May 16, 2017)

    The plane, tail number N220N, was at about 24,000 feet when it dropped off the radar, and authorities said there's no indication of adverse weather. 

    Skylight Group confirmed Blumin, 40, and "members of her family" were on the plane. The event venue development and management firm issued a statement saying Blumin's relatives were working with investigators and asked for privacy. 

    Authorities say the mission is considered a rescue operation and it is actively ongoing; the Coast Guard says 810 square miles are being searched by multiple crews. A Coast Guard cutter was dispatched to the area and was expected to arrive later Tuesday to assist with the search as well.

    According to data obtained from the plane's tail number, the aircraft is owned by a company called Ithaca Consulting Inc. on Waterview Drive in Southhold.

    An online search for that company finds no business number or official website, but does list Blumin as CEO. The Coast Guard confirms she owns the plane. A Google search of the address connected to the tail number leads to a five-bedroom, three bathroom house at the location. Neighbors had no additional details Tuesday afternoon. 

    Blumin has been in a long-term relationship with James Ramsey, president of RAAD Studio, an award-winning architecture and building design practice based in the city. Blumin's Twitter bio bills her as a "seeker of forgotten architecture hidden in urban grit. Believer that history should inspire the future." The description ends simply: #Entrepreneur. 

    The Cornell grad founded Skylight Group in 2004; the firm specializes in re-imagining historical spaces and developing them for high-end use, whether for the biggest icons in fashion or some other client. The firm's website pledges "access to the previously inaccessibly by creating and operating venues in unprecedented locations," and media praise suggests weight to the claim.

    One 2014 New York Times article says, "If you have attended runway shows for Ralph Lauren, Prabal Gurung or Edun, or been to parties for the Whitney Museum of American Art or Google product debuts, you’ve been to an event held with the Skylight Group."

    Skylight's New York portfolio includes One Hanson and Moynihan Station.

    Ulrich is from Lee, New Hampshire, and is the ex-husband of Canadian-American actress Rae Dawn Chong. Chong, known for her roles in "The Color Purple" and "Commando," but perhaps best known as the daughter of comedian and actor Tommy Chong, acknowledged his disappearance in a Facebook post Tuesday afternoon.

    "My ex-hubby's plane is missing over the Bermuda Triangle," Chong wrote. "I am sad and in shock. So send prayers to his family." 

    Authorities say Ulrich was a Coast Guard Auxiliarist out of Air Station Cape Code from 2005 to 2014. Auxiliarists usually work primarily on community outreach like boating classes, but in some cases, auxiliarists with private planes may assist in Coast Guard searches.

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