New York

Search for Vanished Plane Carrying New York City Designer, Young Sons Stretches Into 3rd Day

A debris field was discovered Tuesday, and some pieces were taken ashore for identification

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

The search for a vanished plane carrying a high-end New York City event space designer, her two young boys and a pilot from New Hampshire stretched into a third day Wednesday, with rescuers scouring thousands of square miles of ocean.

Debris that appeared to be from a plane and an oil slick was spotted in the search area 15 miles east of Eleuthera, Bahamas, Tuesday afternoon, and Coast Guard officials say some of the debris was brought ashore for identification. It was confirmed to be components of a twin-engine MU-2B, the same kind 40-year-old Jennifer Blumin, her 3- and 4-year-old boys and 52-year-old Nathan Ulrich of New Hampshire were on when it disappeared.

Officials say Blumin's plane was east of the island Monday when air traffic control in Miami lost radar and radio contact. It was en route from Puerto Rico and never made it to its destination of Titusville, on the northeastern coast of Florida. More than 8,200 square miles were covered in the first 30 hours of the search, Coast Guard officials say. The investigation is ongoing, and the National Transportation Safety Board tweeted Wednesday it was joining the probe.

Blumin is founder and CEO of Skylight Group, which provides event space around New York City, specializing in the fashion industry. The company released a statement Tuesday confirming that she and members of her family were on the plane.

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"Her family is working with investigators and we politely ask that you respect their privacy at this time," the company said.

Their plane was at about 24,000 feet when air traffic control lost contact, but authorities said adverse weather was not considered a factor.

Ulrich was listed as the pilot but it was not known who was flying it at the time, the spokesman said. Blumin owned the plane through a consulting company, according to New York State and aviation records.

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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.

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.

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." 

Ulrich's brother released a statement on behalf of the family as well.

"We were devastated and shocked to learn that Nathan, Jennifer and her children have been missing since leaving from Puerto Rico on Monday," the statement from Karl Ulrich said. "Nathan is our beloved son, brother and uncle and we wish for resolution as the Coast Guard search continues. Our prayers and thoughts are with the Blumin family and James Ramsey in this difficult time." 

Karl Ulrich asked for privacy for the family going forward.

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.

Surveillance video captured the chilling moment a small plane crashed as it was approaching Teterboro Airport on Monday afternoon.
Copyright AP - Associated Press
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