Fugitive Pilot Captured And Charged

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An Indiana pilot who is alleged to have faked a distress call on Sunday night, parachuted from his Piper Meridian and fled a small Alabama town on a motorcycle he'd hidden there was facing the end of his marriage and the collapse of his business empire, authorities say. Marcus Schrenker, 38, was found by U.S. marshals Tuesday night, in a tent at a Florida campground, close to the Georgia border. He had slit his wrist in an apparent suicide attempt. "There was a large loss of blood and he was pretty incoherent," Frank Chiumento, a U.S. Marshal Service deputy chief in Tallahassee, told the IndyStar. "If we didn't arrive at the time, his survival was questionable, that's for sure." Authorities said Schrenker is expected to recover and will face charges of criminal fraud and several lawsuits, as well as federal charges alleging that he faked the distress call and abandoned the airplane. In an e-mail to a friend sent on Monday night, which has been posted online by Fox News, Schrenker insists that a side window broke at 22,000 feet and he jumped out in hypoxia-induced panic. He added that he had considered suicide for some time but would never intentionally endanger others by abandoning the airplane. "If I would have wanted to commit suicide with an aircraft I just would have flown it into a mountain," he wrote. He added, "I have embarrassed my family for the last time and by the time you read this I will be gone." After Schrenker jumped, the empty aircraft continued heading south at about 2,000 feet for about 200 miles. Military aircraft intercepted and reported the door was open and the left seat empty. The airplane eventually crashed in a swamp in northern Florida, narrowly missing several homes.

After bailing out, Schrenker landed in Harpersville, Ala., where he had allegedly stashed a brand-new red Yamaha sport bike in a storage unit he'd rented the day before. Schrenker collected luxury cars, owned at least two airplanes and starred himself in a YouTube video in which he flies under bridges in the Bahamas in an Extra 300. Schrenker is expected to appear in a Florida court this week. His company Heritage Wealth Management took thousands of dollars in investments from many commercial pilots, according to CNN, and complaints have been filed in Georgia and Indiana about the handling of those funds. His wife filed for divorce last month.