法新社╱盧瑞珠 2008-11-04 11:50
DNA tests confirm death of millionaire flyer Steve Fossett
LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Genetic tests on bones found near a wrecked plane last month in the mountains of northern California have confirmed the death of millionaire adventurer Steve Fossett, officials said Monday.
The sheriff's office for Madera County, California said in a statement that DNA tests on two bones were a "conclusive" match to Fossett, ending a yearlong mystery about the fate of the aviator, who disappeared in September 2007.
"What his family has wanted for over a year now -- what his family has needed -- is closure," said Sheriff John Anderson in the statement.
The remains were recovered by searchers on October 29 along with credit cards, an Illinois driver's license, cash, clothing and a pair of tennis shoes, according to the statement.
Fossett, who set more than 100 records during a thrill-seeking career, disappeared in September 2007 after taking off on a solo flight from a private airstrip in Nevada.
Despite a massive month-long search of rugged wilderness, no trace of his plane was found until October 2 when a hiker stumbled on identity cards belonging to Fossett in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
Fossett was declared legally dead by a Chicago probate judge on February 15.
The DNA confirmation Monday is likely to finally put to rest any remaining conspiracy theories about his disappearance after some suggestions earlier this year that he had faked his own death.
The DNA tests were conducted by a laboratory run by the California Department of Justice Forensics.
A multi-millionaire who made his fortune dealing stocks in Chicago, Fossett set his array of world records in sailboats, gliders and hot-air balloons.
He famously made the first solo nonstop, non-refueled circumnavigation of the world in 67 hours in the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer. In 2002, he was the first person to fly solo around the world in a balloon.
Fossett's iconic status and the unusual circumstances around his demise have brought comparisons to the enduring question of what happened to aviator Amelia Earhart, who vanished over the Pacific Ocean in 1937.
After repeatedly cheating death -- he once plummeted 29,000-feet (9,000-meter) into the Coral Sea when a storm shredded his balloon -- his luck ran out on what should have been a routine journey.