Coast Guard suspends search for possible survivors of downed aircraft in waters off Puerto Rico

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Coast Guard rescue crews suspended their search at 12p.m. Tuesday for possible survivors of a downed aircraft in waters off the Quebradillas, Puerto Rico shoreline.

Still missing are four males and one female, all U.S. citizens, who reportedly departed from Casa de Campo International Airport Sunday afternoon aboard a privately owned aircraft chartered by Tropical Aviation Corp. The aircraft and passengers aboard reportedly were scheduled to land at the Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport, Carolina, to clear U.S. Customs prior to arriving at their final destination at the Isla Grande Airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Rescuers located the body of one male Monday from the Cessna 206 single-engine aircraft that went down approximately a half mile off the coast of Quebradillas, Puerto Rico, Sunday.

“Our deepest and heartfelt condolences for their loss go out to the families, friends and loved ones of the people who were aboard the aircraft.” said Capt. Eduardo Pino, Sector San Juan Commander. “Coast Guard rescue crews aggressively searched for three days in conjunction with our local partners from the Puerto Rico Emergency Management Agency and Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces for Rapid Action.”

Recovery operations are still ongoing and are being led by the Puerto Rico Emergency Management Agency and Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces for Rapid Action F.U.R.A. at the Incident Command Post in Quebradillas. Emergency responders participating in the recovery efforts are working with marine units, personal watercrafts and dive teams to find and recover the remaining five bodies that are still missing. The U.S. Envrionmental Protection Agency also took part in recovery operations Tuesday with their Ocean Survey Vessel Bold, a ocean and coastal monitoring vessel equipped with a sidescan sonar that could assist rescue crews in possibly finding additional aircraft wreckage throughout the crash site.

Coast Guard Sector San Juan Joint Rescue Sub Center controllers received initial notification from a 911 operator at 6:51 p.m. Sunday, reporting that an aircraft had crashed into the waters off of Quebradillas.

Coast Guard controllers launched HH-65 Dolphin helicopter crews from Air Station Borinquen, Puerto Rico, and diverted the Coast Guard Cutter Matinicus to initiate searches for the missing aircraft and possible survivors. A Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces For Rapid Action F.U.R.A. helicopter and marine unit, and members of the Civil Air Patrol also responded to the scene. Coast Guard Auxiliary personnel also assisted Puerto Rico Police and Puerto Rico Emergency Management Agency rescue crews in conducting land searches throughout the Quebradillas shoreline.

Coast Guard rescue crews completed a total of 11 searches, eight by HH-65 Dolphin helicopter crews and four by the Matinicus crew.

Coast Guard Cutter Matinicus is a 110-foot patrol boat homeported in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

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