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
Authorities searched in the Bahamas on Tuesday 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 the day before.
The U.S. Coast Guard said the twin-engine MU-2B was east of the island of Eleuthera on Monday when air traffic control in Miami lost radar and radio contact with the plane. It was en route from Puerto Rico and never made it to its destination of Titusville, on the northeastern coast of Florida.
Debris that appeared to be from a plane and an oil slick was spotted in the search area east of Eleuthera but authorities were still trying to determine whether it came from the missing plane, said Lt. Cmdr. Ryan Kelly, a Coast Guard spokesman.
"We are still searching and that search is going to go on through the night and into tomorrow," Kelly said.
The people on board the plane were identified as Nathan Ulrich, 52, of Lee, New Hampshire, and Jennifer Blumin of New York, 40, along with her 3-year-old and 4-year-old sons.
Blumin was founder and CEO of Skylight Group, which provides event space around New York City, specializing in the fashion industry. The company released a statement confirming that she and members of her family were on the plane.
"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. "There's no indication of significant adverse weather at the time," Kelly said.
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.
Coast Guard aircraft were searching along with Customs and Border Patrol and the Royal Bahamas Defense Force about 40 miles (64 kilometers) east of Eleuthera. A Coast Guard cutter was dispatched to the area and was expected to arrive later Tuesday to assist with the search.
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.