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California: Search Under Way for Woman Who Disappeared from Plane in Mid-Flight

Aired December 15, 2000 - 4:31 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: A search is under way in Northern California for a woman who disappeared from a plane in flight. The Hewlett-Packard corporate plane was in route from Roseville, just outside Sacramento to San Jose.

CNN's Rusty Dornin joins us now from Sacramento for more of this very disturbing incident -- Rusty.

RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Joie what started out as a routine charter flight, shuttling Hewlett-Packard employees from Sacramento to San Jose. Apparently, the five employees boarded the plane with two crew members. And that's when the pilot noticed that the light for the emergency door came on. So he decided to land here at the Executive Airport, which is about 10 miles south of Sacramento.

They fixed the door, made sure it was attached and took off again. Then about three minutes into the flight, the passengers noticed something was terribly wrong.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDREW BLACK, FBI: A couple of passengers that were interviewed felt a burst of air and the sound of the door being opened. One of the passengers turned around and observed the door open in the rear. The female passenger seated behind him was apparently halfway out of the plane at this point.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DORNIN: Now, reportedly, the man tried to grab the woman, but she slipped through his fingers. The co-pilot came back, noticing that the light was on for the emergency door. But there was much noise from the door being opened that the passenger couldn't explain to the pilot what had happened. So when the plane landed at 6:05 in San Jose, apparently that is when the passengers told the pilot what happened. But it took 45 minutes for anyone to dial 911 and report to the police that someone had been missing.

Now, apparently, this was a woman, a Hewlett-Packard employee that worked in the purchasing department. Now, the Sacramento Police Department has launched an aerial search. And they're trying to look for a few clues in that search.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAPT. TED MANDALLA, SACRAMENTO POLICE: The flight that the air path took: The FAA is working on reviewing their tapes and radio transmission tapes with the pilot at the time. They are reviewing those and providing that information to us. And on the basis of that information, we are assessing the areas that are being searched.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DORNIN: Now, they say that the area is just too big to try to launch any kind of a ground search. It's an area that's filled with homes. There are rural farmlands and also waterways here. Now, reportedly, the FBI and the NTSB are involved in the investigation. No foul play is expected. But it is unclear at the point whether the woman was attempting suicide or whether there was a malfunction in the door -- Joie.

CHEN: Rusty, there were no reports from the ground of anything amiss. Nobody on the ground noticed anything?

DORNIN: On the -- apparently not. The police said they have not received any phone calls at all of anything falling out of the airplane, or that anyone has found anything -- so far.

CHEN: Rusty Dornin reporting to us from Sacramento. Thanks, Rusty.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: That is truly an odd story.

CHEN: And disturbing.

WATERS: We will continue to look into that, of course.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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