The U.S. Coast Guard announced today (May 11) it has suspended the search for the three occupants of a Learjet 36A that crashed into the Pacific Ocean yesterday off the coast of San Clemente Island. The as-yet-unidentified victims are presumed dead.

The Learjet, N56PA, was operated by Phoenix Air on contract to the U.S. Navy. The flight departed from Port Hueneme-Point Mugu Naval Air Station near San Diego. No information on the nature of the mission has been released.

First reports of the crash came in to the Coast Guard around 8 a.m. yesterday (May 10). According to news reports, the crew declared an emergency before crashing into the ocean. A second Phoenix Air Learjet was in the area and overflew the crash site, spotting a debris field. The ensuing search was conducted by the Coast Guard, Navy and U.S. Customs and Border Patrol. It covered approximately 334 square miles. Some debris was recovered, but no bodies were found.

Captain Jim Spitler, sector commander for the U.S. Coast Guard in San Diego, said, “Suspending search efforts is one of the hardest decisions to be made, but after aggressively searching the area around San Clemente Island for more than 24 hours using land, air and surface assets with negative results, the decision was made to suspend the active search until further information or developments occur.”

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