The scene of the crash on Monday.
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Senior Reporter
FAMILY and friends are mourning the deaths of two former Royal Bahamas Defence Force marines who perished in a fiery plane crash in Abaco yesterday.
Authorities have not officially revealed the identities of the men, but sources told The Tribune they are pilots Jason Allen and Lavan Paul.
Police said they received a report of the Treasure Cay, Abaco plane crash shortly after 3.30pm yesterday.
“Upon arrival, officers discovered an airplane in bushes some distance away from the Treasure Cay Airport fully engulfed,” police said. “Initial enquiries revealed that the airplane was observed taxing and a short time later smoke and flames were seen coming from the airplane. Additionally, two pilots were onboard the airplane when it crashed. Further checks were made and there were no signs of life onboard.”
Images of the scene told the story of the crash’s devastating impact, with parts of the plane strewn together in a jumbled mess.
One video of the crash posted to Facebook showed thick orange flames and black smoke billowing in the air.
Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar, who has responsibility for aviation, said the plane – an IAI 1124 Westwind N790JR – left the Dominican Republic on Friday for Treasury Cay. He said the plane was scheduled to fly to New Providence yesterday.
“I think they were going to refuel probably, or pick up some passengers, we’re not sure,” he said.
He said the Air Accident Investigation Authority will arrive in Treasure Cay today to investigate the crash.
According to Flightware.com, the plane was last owned by Transenergie Inc.
Tributes to the men flooded Facebook yesterday evening.
“I love (you) my big brother (you) all I know Lavan Paul, wake up,” said the brother of Mr Paul in a public post.
A friend wrote on Facebook: “Lavan Paul taught me to live life to the fullest and don’t sweat the small stuff. He was always positive and happy. We made a hit song together, sailed the Bahamian waters together and played rugby. Don’t spend another day doing something you don’t love doing in the name of Lavan. RIP brother.”
For her part, North and Central Abaco administrator Terrece Bootle-Laing said the weather in Abaco at the time of the crash was “terrible.”
“I would’ve driven to the end of the runway and they crashed some ways away from the runway, just about a quarter of a mile away,” she said. “That tells me the plane didn’t have a successful takeoff. Once the runway ended, it was only within a minute that I arrived to the site of their crash and was able to get a close vantage point.
“The weather was terrible, just terrible,” she added. “I don’t know if weather was a factor in the crash but we were under a thunder and lightning situation. This is a tragedy for Abaco. Abaco has had its share of not good news but we continue to be positive knowing all things work together for good. We give our sympathies to the families involved.”
She added: “It’s summer; persons would have known those persons at a close level because I gather that those persons frequented this area quite a bit. There are some persons who are expressing grief.”
In August 2020, a Piper PA32 Cherokee Six crash landed in waters off Treasure Cay after experiencing engine failure shortly after leaving the Treasure Cay Airport for Nassau. The pilot and four passengers survived in that incident.