Xin Rong Identified As Michigan Pilot Whose Plane Crashed In Northwestern Ontario

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A Michigan pilot who disappeared after a plane crash in Ontario may have tried to end his life, police said.

Xin Rong, 27, a doctoral student at the University of Michigan, rented a plane from the Ann Arbor Municipal Airport on March 15, and near midnight, it crashed, according to a press release obtained by MLive.

The Cessna 172 was found about 60 kilometres east of Marathon, Ontario Provincial Police told The Canadian Press last week.

xin rong

Xin Rong was piloting a Cessna 172 that crashed in northwestern Ontario last week. (Photo: Xin Rong/Facebook)


They said the pilot wasn’t found near the crash site and ended their investigation.

Meanwhile, the University of Michigan Police Department was investigating Rong as a missing person.

They confirmed Wednesday that he was aboard the plane, and that an air and ground search for him has been suspended.

“Police have reasons to believe his actions likely were an act of self-harm,” a news release obtained by The Chronicle Journal said, but there were no details on how they came to that conclusion.

"When (Rong) exited, and how (Rong) exited, is still a mystery."

Rong is a student in the School of Information, according to his LinkedIn page, researching artificial intelligence, “language networks” and “text mining.” He had worked at Microsoft and Google.

His personal website appears to have disappeared.

Transportation Safety Board of Canada investigation data that the Chronicle Journal obtained revealed the plane had travelled nearly 800 kilometres before crashing, empty, in the woods.

While it was headed for Harbour Spring, Mich., it didn’t land anywhere before the accident, investigators said. They think the plane was on auto-pilot and ran out of fuel.

"When (Rong) exited, and how (Rong) exited, is still a mystery," said one investigator.

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