Sunday, September 14, 2008

A researcher from Holland, Michigan claims to have found an unmarked grave containing human remains from Northwest Orient Airlines Flight 2501. The airliner vanished over Lake Michigan in 1950 with 55 passengers and three crew.

Valerie van Heest says she has discovered that human remains washed ashore after the June 23 crash, the cause of which remains undetermined although severe weather at the time may have had an impact. She says that after the remains appeared they were placed in a mass grave in nearby Riverview Cemetery in St. Joseph without the relatives being notified. The grave was never marked.

Both the Michigan Shipwreck Research Associates, who document shipwrecks in the area, and author Clive Cussler have spent years searching for the McDonnell-Douglas DC4 but without success.

Van Heest Said of the victims’ relatives “After more than a half-century they are still interested in learning what befell their loved ones… One 89-year-old woman in New York lost her mother in the crash. She told me, ’Valerie, please help find her before I die.’ ”

A black granite monument engraved with the names of everyone on board has been donated by a funeral home in South Haven. It will be unveiled at a ceremony on September 20. The families of 47 of the 58 victims have been notified of the new developments.