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Missing U-M Student Declared Dead Months After Plane Crash

ANN ARBOR (WWJ/AP) - A University of Michigan student who disappeared following a plane crash earlier this year has been declared dead.

A Washtenaw County probate judge on Thursday signed an order declaring Xin Rong dead, saying although his body wasn't found, he had "no chance of being alive." The petition was filed by Rong's wife.

Xin Rong
Xin Rong (Photo: Michigan State Police)

Rong — who was 27 at the time of his disappearance — rented a single-engine airplane from the Ann Arbor Airport on March 15. The Cessna 172P crashed and later was discovered a densely wooded area in Ontario, Canada.

Authorities said Rong wasn't with the plane, which was out of fuel, and there was no sign of him at the scene. There were no footprints in the snow and air and ground searches did not turn up a body — or any clues.

An Ontario Provincial Police spokesman said investigators believe Rong committed suicide, jumping from the plane during the flight; and U-M Public Safety and Security spokeswoman Diane Brown said campus police "have reasons to believe his actions likely were an act of self-harm."

The doctoral student from China also was a certified pilot.

He was studying human-computer interaction, artificial intelligence and natural language processing at U-M, according to a profile which previously appears on the school's website. The profile has since been removed at his family's request.

© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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