Three weeks ago, the startling discovery of identification that belonged to missing aviator Steve Fossett brought media to Mammoth Lakes from all over the world. The story quieted down considerably in the past two weeks, although persistent rumors have surfaced in Mammoth and confirmation that Madera County crews did return to the mountains above Mammoth to continue the search for Fossett's remains.
Some sources say that the four bone fragments found in the vicinity of Fossett's wrecked plane are not human but animal. Two sources hinted that searchers might return to the wreckage site for more investigation. Erica Stuart, public information person for Madera County, said, "I have no definitive response."
When asked specifically what the Madera County Coroner has found and when there might be more information, Ms. Stuart said she had nothing to report and we would have to wait for a press release. That press release came in late Thursday. It says that "a recent warm spell granted Madera County Sheriff's deputies an opportunity to return to the crash site in search of more clues. Because this is an ongoing coroner's case that remains under investigation, we are precluded at this time from disclosing details." Forest Service spokesmen in the Eastern Sierra confirmed that Madera County had requested use of one of their helicopters to continue the Fossett search.
Meanwhile, reports have come in that some locals have hiked into the wreckage themselves, perhaps to see what they could find. Fossett's ID and cash, found by Preston Morrow of Mammoth Lakes, were passed on to the Mono Sheriff's Department from the Mammoth Lakes Police. Mono Sheriff passed on the ID and cash to Madera County, the lead agency in this investigation.
The National Transportation Safety Board officials had earlier said it would take them six months to complete their investigation of the plane wreckage to determine why Fossett crashed. Nothing has yet been posted on the NTSB website. The plane wreckage was lifted off the mountain tops and transported to a storage facility in Sacramento for investigation there.