Survivors ‘traumatised’ by Long Island crash

A photo from social media of the crash site.

A photo from social media of the crash site.

FAMILY members of the surviving victims of the Long Island plane crash said the accident has left them shaken and traumatised.

Local authorities reported that the twin engine aircraft crashed in bushes near Deadman’s Cay Airport in Long Island after 9am Sunday.

Works and Utilities Minister Alfred Sears confirmed his daughter, Nia Sears, was a passenger on the downed aircraft.

He said they were alerted to the accident after 9am from their daughter’s friend, who was also on the flight.

“Surely, you can imagine that the frenzy and trauma have truly left us all shaken,” he said. “However, we are immensely grateful to God for sparing the lives of our loved ones, as we are taught as believers in God, that ‘in all things give thanks’.”

Motivational speaker Spence Finlayson, whose 26-year-old daughter was also on the flight, expressed gratitude to God for protecting the survivors.

“I was on my way to church when I got the call,” he told The Tribune yesterday. “My daughter spoke so matter of factly that I thought it was just a little crash and they just ran off the runway or something.”

“And it didn’t hit me until I kept seeing these things on Facebook, the death and all that and I was concerned about that and then it was Bahamas news or one of (the other sites) posted a photograph along with a story on Facebook and to my amazement and surprise there was my daughter standing up at the crash site. So, I said thank God she’s okay. She should be released from Doctor’s (hospital) today.”

The victims were rescued after an emergency response was initiated by the Royal Bahamas Police Force, Royal Bahamas Defence Force, Airport Authority and the United States Coast Guard.

Many were greeted by concerned family members at Odessy Aviation before being taken to hospital on Sunday.

Yesterday, Mr Sears praised the heroic efforts of all those who assisted in a mission that he said was quite “difficult”.

“The rescue of the survivors was difficult and courageous,” he added. “The rescuers had to cut through miles of inaccessible marshland and rocky terrain to reach the crash site and assist the survivors.

“Police Superintendent McGregor led the police search and rescue team. I telephoned Mr. Stefan Knowles, at 9:39 am, who was about to take a plane from Long Island to Exuma. Stefan immediately volunteered to lead a search and rescue team and directed the pilot coming for him to divert to make an aerial location of the crash site. When I heard from Stefan again, he had reached the crash site and was assisting the survivors. Unfortunately, Stefan injured his foot in assisting the survivors. I wish Stefan a speedy and full recovery.”

The Aircraft Accident Investigation Authority (AAIA) said they are still investigating to determine exactly what led to the incident.

However, weather officials have said it’s not likely that bad weather was to blame for the crash.

“Today, we went back to Long Island,” Delvin Major, AAIA’s chief investigator, said yesterday.

“A full team went down and we did our mapping with the drones, we did our measurements, we did all of the full documentation of the aircraft and of the scene and we were able to learn a lot from what we saw at the scene so now that we’re back in Nassau, the next phase is to put all the information that we gathered in the field as well as to review the documents that we received from other entities that will be a part of the investigations and we will use that information to determine what may have happened.”

“We have reached out to the Met office to get a copy of the weather report. We have reached out to our counterparts in the US to get information on the pilot’s licence, medical training and the maintenance record of the aircraft - all those are just to determine that all of the actions were done in the parameters allowed by law.”

In the meantime, anyone with information, including those who were on the aircraft, are asked to reach out to the authorities to assist with their investigations.

“We would like to appeal to them to give us a call (at 376-1617 or 376-8334) and to reach out to us because we would like to know what took place,” Captain Major added. “First of all, the purpose of our investigation is not to blame anybody but to find out what happened and to prevent it from happening again in the future.”


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