ABC Action News

Charter plane from Fort Lauderdale crashes, kills 2 in Bahamas
an Associated Press report 7/14/03

NASSAU, Bahamas - A small charter plane carrying nine passengers and a pilot crashed in the Bahamas, killing a woman and a young girl, officials said.

Eight survivors, including an infant and the pilot, clutched one another for 80 minutes in warm water until two U.S. Coast Guard helicopters used aerial baskets to pluck them from the ocean.

A nine-seat Cessna 402 operated by Air Sunshine crashed Sunday in the waters 9 miles west of the airport in Treasure Cay, Bahamas, said Moe Adili, the airline's director of operations.

A 3-year-old girl was dead on arrival at Rand Memorial Hospital in Freeport, emergency room physician Dr. Ferdinand Fermo said. An airline official said a Bahamian woman was found dead at the scene.

The pilot -- the lone crew member -- reported trouble with the right engine at about 3:35 p.m. before all contact was lost, Adili said by telephone from Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

The plane took off from Fort Lauderdale at 2:35 p.m, he said. There were four children and five adults aboard, Adili said.

Moments before the crash, the pilot issued a mayday call, which was picked up by another plane in the vicinity and relayed to the Federal Aviation Administration, spokeswoman Petty Officer Anastasia Burns said.

Survivors were being treated at Rand Memorial Hospital in Freeport, said Earnestine Brennen, an emergency medical services official. Two of them were in stable condition but could not walk, Brennen said.

Air Sunshine has headquarters in Fort Lauderdale and San Juan, Puerto Rico. It has been operating for 21 years, Adili said.