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Coast Guard suspends search for missing aircraft from Grants Pass

The U.S. Coast Guard has suspended its search for a plane carrying three Grants Pass residents that's believed to have crashed in the ocean north of Brookings.

The search ended at 9:47 p.m. Tuesday, after more than 12 hours of searching, according to a release from the Coast Guard.

John Belnap, the pilot, his son Max, 17, and a friend Ryan Merker, 17, remain missing after their 1964 Cessna 172F disappeared on a flight from Brookings to the Grants Pass airport in Merlin Monday night. The two teenagers are both Grants Pass High School students and 200 people turned out at the school Tuesday evening for a vigil.

Coast Guard search efforts included aircrews aboard a C-27J Spartan fixed-wing aircraft from its Sacramento, Calif., station, several MH-65 Dolphin helicopters from North Bend and a boatcrew aboard a 47-foot motor lifeboat from Chetco River station in Brookings. According to the Coast Guard, it conducted seven searches covering more than 540 square miles. The Civil Air Patrol and the Curry County Sheriff's Office participated in the search, as did the Josephine County sheriff and that county's search and rescue coordinator.

John Belnap, who worked for the Asante Three Rivers hospital, is a volunteer member of the Josephine County Search and Rescue squad.

The search efforts began Tuesday at about 8 a.m., but was focused on the mountainous area between Grants Pass and Brookings.  It shifted to an ocean search after a backpack and other personal effects believed to belong to occupants aboard the aircraft washed ashore near Lone Ranch Picnic Park, 4 miles north of the Brookings Airport.