DNA Test Confirms MIssing Pilot Identity off Florida
DNA testing conducted on remains found in Florida have confirmed that they belong to British pilot, Andrei Postelnicu, who crashed off of the coast in 2014. The remains, which consisted of only bone fragments, were found in March on the beach near Stuart and were determined to belong to a male of average height.
The remains did not contain enough “flesh material” and were not able to be tested appropriately for rapid identification. As a result, the bone fragments were sent out to a specialized lab for in Austin, Texas for more extensive extensive DNA tests to be performed. The tests finally were able to confirm that the remains did indeed belong to Postelnicu in May and enabled Christine Weekes of the District 19 Medical Examiner’s Office in Fort Pierce to list his cause of death as an accidental airplane crash.
Lost at Sea
Postelnicu left from Marathon in the Florida Keys on February 7, 2014 in a rented Piper PA-28-161 plane. His intended destination was Vero Beach, but sadly the pilot never made it as his plane crashed off of the coast. He was last heard from on the evening of his crash when he notified the Witham Field Airport of his intention to change his original flight path, opting to land at the St. Lucie County International Airport instead.
Officials were quickly became concerned for his well being when Postelnicu did not land as intended nor initiate further contact with the airport. A thorough search was conducted in the hopes of rescuing Postelnicu, but hope was lost after two weeks and 25 square nautical miles were covered without any sign of him.
The search was only able to recover 11 pieces of metal pieces of the plane, the pilot’s backpack that held his license and a boot. Beach goers and boaters found several more pieces of debris in the weeks after the search was called off. Not much was found that aided authorities in determining what happened to him or where his remains were until bone fragments were found on the beach near a hotel.
The cause of the crash is still unknown as the plane was never fully recovered and Postelnicu was thought to have been fatally injured upon impact. Officials say it took quite a while to notify his family of the postmortem DNA test results. Hopefully now that his remains have been identified his family can find some sense of closure and peace.