Almost three weeks ago, the private plane carrying European soccer player Emiliano Sala went missing over the English Channel after he signed a deal to leave French club Nantes and move to Cardiff City. Sala had been on his way back to the Welsh capital when the plane went missing.
Last week, a seat cushion believed to have come from the plane was found on a beach in France, and earlier this week, the remainder of the plane’s wreckage was found, with a body inside. The Guardian is reporting that authorities have now officially confirmed that the body has been identified as Sala.
“The body brought to Portland Port has been formally identified by HM Coroner for Dorset as that of professional footballer Emiliano Sala,” Dorset police said. “The families of Mr. Sala and the pilot David Ibbotson have been updated with this news and will continue to be supported by specially trained family liaison officers.”
Cardiff City has issued a statement about the announcement, offering their condolences to the family and friends of Sala, while they process the awful news.
Although the body and the wreckage was discovered early this week, poor weather prevented them from being able to recover it quickly.
Dorset Police confirm the body recovered from the wreckage of a crashed plane in the English Channel is that of Cardiff striker Emiliano Sala. Rest in peace. pic.twitter.com/zUjeFKJPnC— SPORTbible (@sportbible) February 7, 2019
Even after conditions cleared up enough for the body to be recovered, the Air Accident Investigation Branch were unable to lift the wreckage of the plane out of the water, but the body recovery was “carried out in as dignified a way as possible” with respect to the player.
The 28-year-old had been in Nantes after signing his deal with Cardiff City to say goodbye to the friends and teammates he had been with. He was on his way home again when the plane went missing on January 21.
The initial search for the plane and Sala was called off after three days. Sala’s family and friends then started a funding campaign to raise the money needed to conduct a private search for the plane. David Mearns, known as the “Shipwreck Hunter,” was hired to help with the search, and took just two hours to locate the missing aircraft.
There is no confirmation yet on whether or not pilot David Ibbotson’s body has been recovered from the wreckage, but he is also presumed dead.
An initial report on the accident and the investigation is expected to be released before the end of the month, but is expected to be a hard task for investigators, who likely won’t be able to find a flight recorder in the small plane.