Coast Guard suspends search for possible downed aircraft in waters south of Santo Domingo

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Coast Guard rescue crews suspended their search Friday morning in waters south of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic for a possible downed aircraft that failed to arrive to its final destination in San Juan, Puerto Rico Monday night.

Still missing is the aircraft pilot, Antonio Fernandez, 67, a U.S. citizen resident of Dorado, Puerto Rico, who reportedly departed at approximately 8:26 p.m. Monday from the Las Americas International Airport, Dominican Republic aboard a company owned Cessna Citation 501 multi-jet engine aircraft. Fernandez was expected to fly his aircraft into the Isla Grande Airport, San Juan by 9:30 p.m. Monday.

Dominican aviation authorities last recorded the missing aircraft on radar at approximately three miles south of Santo Domingo, where Coast Guard and Dominican Republic air and surface rescue crews focused their search efforts.

Coast Guard and Dominican Republic Navy rescue crews spent three days conducting 17 searches spanning out more than 7,686 square nautical miles throughout the search area, twice the size of Puerto Rico. Coast Guard surface and air assets utilized during the search consisted of HH-65 Dolphin helicopters from Air Station Borinquen, Aguadilla; HU-25 Falcon Jets from Air Station Miami and Air Station Cape Cod, Mass.; two HC-130 aircraft from Air Station Clearwater, Fla.; Coast Guard Cutter Key Largo; a Coast Guard Auxiliary fixed-wing aircraft and a Dominican Republic Navy patrol boat.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Mr. Fernandez during this difficult time,” said Capt. Eduardo Pino, Sector San Juan Commander. “Coast Guard rescue crews aggressively searched for three days in conjunction with our partners from the Dominican Republic Navy and Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action.”

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