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New crater discovered at ValuJet crash site

June 3, 1996
Web posted at: 10:30 p.m. EDT

From Correspondent Susan Candiotti

MIAMI (CNN) -- Investigators think they may have solved one of the mysteries surrounding the crash of ValuJet Flight 592. That is, where are the missing pieces of the plane?

Since the crash on May 11, investigators have located only half of the plane, and searchers have recovered relatively small pieces of human remains and wreckage.

But Monday, divers said they had found a crater within the main crater which may contain large aircraft parts and the remains of many of the 110 victims. The new crater, located beneath the limestone rock base, is about 20 feet wide and 30 feet deep.

Stolen plane parts found

Earlier in the day, a salvage company truck driver, hired to transport the ValuJet wreckage, was arrested on charges he stole airplane parts from the crash site.

FBI officials said the man, Michael Gadsden, 35, of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, took two parts of the wreckage, including a circuit breaker from the cockpit, which National Transportation Safety Board officials previously have said is a key component in determining the cause of the crash.

The second part was a portion of the aircraft fuselage, which measured approximately 12 inches by 8 inches.

Parts stolen as souvenirs, FBI says

According to a sworn affidavit, Gadsden claimed he took the two aircraft parts as souvenirs.

Gadsden has been charged with violating a federal law, which makes it a crime for a person to knowingly remove, conceal or withhold a part of a civil aircraft involved in an accident or property on the aircraft, at the time of the accident.

Gadsden was employed by Resolve Towing and Salvage, which has been contracted by the NTSB for retrieval of the wreckage from the Everglades.

The company president, Joseph Farrell, told CNN in a phone interview that Gadsden was fired immediately from the company once it became known Gadsden had parts to the plane.

The salvage company has since added 24-hour security to the airplane hanger at Tamiami Airport in Miami, where the wreckage parts are being transported.

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