Thursday, August 02, 2012

Piper Aztec: Freeport, Grand Bahama Island

Crash survivors has to be rescued by canoe

FREEPORT – Four persons were rescued after the plane they were on crashed in the mangrove swamp shortly after take off from the Grand Bahama International Airport.

Flamingo Air pilot Raymond Meadows and three passengers, including his wife, daughter, and an unidentified man were onboard on the Piper Aztec when it went down around 1.30pm on Tuesday, east of the airport.

According to reports, the victims were stranded at the crash site for a few hours in shallow waters until rescuers and police officers could reach them by canoe.

Asst Supt Loretta Mackey said police received a report around 1.35pm that a twin-engine plane had crash-landed in the mangroves some two miles east of the airport.

She said the aircraft encountered mechanical difficulties on take-off and the pilot decided to ditch the aircraft in the mangroves.

“None of the victims were injured, everyone is okay,” she reported.

The Tribune learned that the pilot and his family were flying to Eleuthera to attend a family funeral.

Freeport Aggregate allowed only the police, emergency personnel, and airport officials access through its property to the crash site.

The media was denied access by company officials. Relatives of the victims had also rushed to the area on learning news of the crash.

At about 4pm, the wife and daughter were the first victims rescued and taken by ambulance to the hospital.

Up until 5pm, rescue efforts were still underway for the pilot and a male passenger, who were still stranded out in the mangroves.

Getting to the crash site was a very difficult task for rescuers.

Ms Mackey said because of the dense mangroves and low tide conditions, a police boat could not be used to rescue the victims.

She said investigations are continuing into the accident.

Freeport, Grand Bahama Island - It was approximately 1:35pm yesterday, Tuesday 31st July, 2012, when it was reported that a 45 year old male pilot of an out-boarding Piper Aztec twin engine craft had crash landed into the mangroves about two miles east of the Freeport International Airport, in shallow waters (2ft) just minutes into the flight. The plane was reportedly having some mechanical difficulties which forced the pilot to crash land while en route to Eleuthera.

The pilot and passengers (Bahamian residents of Freeport) escaped the ordeal without serious injuries and were transported to the Emergency Section of the Rand Memorial Hospital for a routine medical examination.

We commend members of the Royal Bahamas Police Force, the Royal Bahamas Defense Force, Staff members of the Emergency Response Team (Ambulance Depart.) at the Rand Memorial Hospital and Staff at the Freeport Aggregates Ltd., for their tireless effort to rescue the four persons that ended at 7pm last evening.

This morning, Wednesday 1st August, 2012, investigations are continuing into this matter by the Central Detective Unit along with Aviation Department here on the island.

Meadows, the owner and operator of Flamingo Air, made the decision to crash land the plane in the mangroves, according to police reports. Police received the ...

Story and photos: 

A family of three and an unidentified male passenger survived a plane crash yesterday after the pilot was forced to ditch the small plane in the mangroves, just off the Grand Bahama Highway. 

 The 45-year-old pilot, Raymond Meadows, Sr., his wife, their 10-year-old and the other male had reportedly just taken off from the Grand Bahama Airport en route to Eleuthera when the twin engine Piper Aztec aircraft encountered mechanical problems.

Meadows, the owner and operator of Flamingo Air, made the decision to crash land the plane in the mangroves, to the east of Freeport Aggregates, reports say.

Police received the call about the crash around 1:35 p.m. and emergency rescue teams, including the Fire Department and ambulance personnel responded.

The Royal Bahamas Defense Force was also called in to lend assistance.

When news crews arrived at the Freeport Aggregates site, they were denied access and kept at bay.

However, the media gained access to the mangroves through an unpaved access road where work crews from Freeport Construction and police officers were observing, though still a great distance from the crash site.

The four crash victims were still at the crash site and, while it was difficult to make out the goings on, it was clear that there was movement at least above the plane in waters said to be about knee high.

The mother and daughter were assisted from the crash site first via a canoe and transported to land just after 4:00 p.m. where they walked over to the waiting ambulance unassisted and taken to the hospital for observation.

The entire ordeal proved a tedious process for rescue officials and the crash victims as they raced against the tide which turned low at one point and forced officials to maneuver to another area to gain higher tide.

As the canoe had limited space, retrieving the passengers proved time consuming as rescue personnel had to use paddle and row back and forth to the site which was a little less than a mile away.

Around 7:00 p.m., Meadows and his male passenger were safely brought on to land and also transported to the hospital.

All four reportedly had no visible signs of injury.

Meadows was reportedly on his way to Eleuthera just hours after learning of the passing of his father there.

The matter is under investigation.

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