Some of lost air-adventurer Steve Fossett's personal belongings may have been found in the California woods not far from the Nevada state line, prompting a new search, FOX News learned.
Preston Morrow, a local ski shop owner, told FOX News that he was hiking alone with his dog near his home in Mammoth Lakes, Calif. on Monday afternoon when he stumbled across what appeared to be three cards with Fossett's name on them that were issued by the Federal Aviation Administration in Illinois, as well as ten, $100 bills.
Morrow, 43, returned to the site on Tuesday to get a GPS reading of the site when he spotted a sweatshirt on top of a ridge
Morrow then brought the items back home to his wife, a local fire captain, Mammoth Lakes Police Chief Randy Schienle told FOX News, correcting earlier reports that she found the cards and bills.He then turned the items over to local police Wednesday after unsuccessful attempts to contact Fossett's family.
Officers were interviewing the couple about the find, but early reports suggest the cards are authentic, sources said.
The bills were tattered and crumpled on the ground; the weather-worn sweatshirt was nearby, Morrow told FOX. Both human and animal hair were found on the sweatshirt.
In an interview with FOX News' Trace Gallagher Wednesday, Morrow said that he didn't find any signs of the light plane Fossett, 63, was flying when he disappeared last September, but aviation experts said that doesn't mean the items are bogus.
"I have to admit, his name didn't pop in my head immediately," Morrow told FOX. "But I did wonder, 'gee why is there some id cards and money right around here when there is nothing else? There was no wallet, no little bag ... nothing.'"
But Morrow's discovery prompted authorities to assemble a new search team to comb the area, Schienle told FOX.
Fossett was the first person to ride the jet stream around the world in a balloon. He climbed some of the world's tallest and toughest mountains, sailed and set a number of world records.
He was declared legally dead in February.
In August, an attorney for Fossett's widow pleaded for an end to speculation circulating on the Internet that the millionaire balloonist and air adventurer may have faked his own death, possibly because he was heavily in debt.
Fossett, who made a fortune trading futures and options on Chicago markets, took off from a private airstrip in Nevada last September on a solo flight in a light plane.
He never returned, and searchers have found no trace of the plane.
Authorities said it was probable that it went down in rugged country, and that finding wreckage would be hard.
One of Fossett's friends reacted to Wednesday's news with cautious optimism.
If the belongings turn out to be authentic, then that could help narrow the search area for possible wreckage, said Ray Arvidson, a scientist at Washington University who worked on Fossett's past balloon flights.
"It would be nice to get closure," Arvidson said.
FOX News' Adam Housley, Harris Faulkner, Catherine Donaldson-Evans and The Associated Press contributed to this report.