Fossett's Wife Asks Court To Declare Him Dead

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The wife of adventurer Steve Fossett, who vanished in September while flying over the Nevada desert, asked a court in Chicago to declare him dead on Monday. "As painful as it is for Mrs. Fossett, other members of the family and his many friends, it is time to initiate this process," lawyer Michael LoVallo told The Associated Press. The court petition clarified some details of the disappearance. It stated that Fossett was on a pure pleasure flight, not scouting for sites for a land speed record attempt, as was widely reported early on. The petition also confirmed that Fossett did not take along a watch he owned that was capable of sending out a distress signal, and he did not have a parachute on board. LoVallo said the court request is a necessary step to resolve the status of Fossett's estate, which he said is "vast, surpassing eight figures."

Besides official search-and-rescue missions, thousands of Internet users aided in the search by scrutinizing satellite pictures for clues. Friends of Fossett also funded a private search that continued after the official search was suspended.