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Report of signal in pilot search fruitless

The Hernando County Sheriff’s Office tracked down another lead in the search for a missing pilot and his airplane on Tuesday but again came up empty, a spokeswoman said.

The Civil Air Patrol contacted authorities after detecting a signal from an emergency transmitter in the Chassahowitzka Wildlife Management Area, said Denise Moloney, spokeswoman for the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office.

Theodore “Teddy” Weiss, 74, of Zephyrhills, was last seen taking off from the Dunnellon Airport on the afternoon of April 5.

He was reported as a missing person on April 7, and crews began searching the Withlacoochee State Forest in Citrus County where his plane was last mapped.

Hernando officials took over as lead agency on Friday and Saturday as the search extended south into the county.

On Tuesday, after being directed to an area in Chassahowitzka northwest of Centralia Road and U.S. 19, north of Weeki Wachee, 16 people from the sheriff’s office searched from the ground and two searched from the air.

They combed the area between 8 a.m. and noon but called off the search after finding nothing, Moloney said.

“We feel like we searched it thoroughly and were unable to locate anything,” Moloney said. “They feel like they would have seen it and they didn’t see anything out there.”

The sheriff’s office searched two different areas Monday after receiving tips and will continue to track down any leads they get, Moloney said.

“We sure would hope to find this gentleman,” she said. “We would like to give his family some closure.”

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