By Justin Worland
September 5, 2014

Updated Saturday 8:07 a.m.

An American aircraft whose pilot had stopped communicating with air traffic controllers for hours crashed near Jamaica on Friday, officials said.

Two people, owner and Rochester businessman Larry Glazer and his wife, Jane Glazer, were aboard the aircraft, their son said. The aircraft crashed about 14 miles off the coast of Jamaica, the Federal Aviation Administration said. The U.S. Coast Guard had launched a search and rescue operation Friday afternoon, and while some presumed the Glazers to be dead, their fate remained unclear to officials. Search teams will continue the search Saturday morning, CNN reports.

The aircraft, which departed Rochester, N.Y., en route to Florida on Friday morning, went unresponsive over the southwest Atlantic. U.S. military jets were dispatched by the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) to escort the aircraft, but the F-15s broke away before the aircraft overflew Cuba.

Those aboard the aircraft may have been suffering from hypoxia, NORAD said. Hypoxia can disable pilots and passengers aboard high-flying aircraft that lose cabin pressurization if they don’t engage supplemental oxygen systems before they’re rendered unconscious. Hypoxia can be fatal if supplemental oxygen isn’t administered quickly. Even if the pilot was disabled, the aircraft’s autopilot system may have continued flying on the last heading the pilot set. The F-15 pilots were able to see the smaller plane’s pilot slumped over, officials told CNN.

N900KN’s last heading change before flying over the ocean was a turn over North Carolina. It then proceeded on a straight path towards Cuba, according to data from flight tracking service FlightAware. It flew over Cuba, then proceeded towards Jamaica over the Caribbean Sea, where it likely ran out of fuel before crashing.

Write to Justin Worland at justin.worland@time.com.

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