4 Nov 2008

Fossett bones confirmed near plane wreck

3:40 pm on 4 November 2008

DNA tests have confirmed two large bones found near the wreckage of a plane in California are those of American millionaire Steve Fossett, police say.

The adventurer and holder of about 100 world records was 63 when he disappeared in September 2007 while on a solo flight from a Nevada ranch.

The bones were found last Wednesday 0.8km east of a crash site in isolated eastern California.

Fossett's shoes and driver's licence were also found. Both showed evidence of animal bite marks, police said.

"A California Department of Justice Forensics lab has determined that items containing DNA - discovered last week - match James Stephen Fossett's DNA," police coroners in California said.

The plane wreckage was located in a remote stretch of the Sierra Nevada mountains in October after a hiker handed items belonging to the record-breaking adventurer to police.

Investigators flown to the crash site by helicopter said the single-engine Bellanca Super Decathlon seemed to have struck the mountainside head-on. Most of the fuselage had disintegrated, with engine parts scattered over wide area.

Madera County Sheriff John Anderson said Fossett would have died on impact, adding that it was not unusual for animals to drag away remains.

The adventurer's widow, Peggy, described the discovery of the bones last week as "another step in the process of completing the investigation into the tragic accident that took Steve's life".

Fossett became the first person to circle the globe solo in a balloon in 2002 and had about 100 other world records to his name.

For more than a year after he took off from the Nevada ranch there was no trace of him, despite an intensive search and he was declared legally dead earlier this year.