Monday, June 06, 2022

Piper PA-31 Navajo C, N711JW: Fatal accident occurred June 05, 2022 near Deadman’s Cay Airport, Long Island, Bahamas

National Transportation Safety Board accident number: GAA22WA197 

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards International Field Office: Miami, Florida

Aircraft crashed under unknown circumstances on departure.

Date: 05-JUN-22
Time: 13:00:00Z
Regis#: N711JW
Aircraft Make: PIPER
Aircraft Model: PA31
Event Type: ACCIDENT
Highest Injury: FATAL
Total Fatal: 1
Flight Crew: 1 uninjured
Pax: 1 fatal; 5 unknown injuries 
Aircraft Missing: No
Activity: ON DEMAND
Flight Phase: TAKEOFF (TOF)
Country: BAHAMAS

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation may contact them by email, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email You can also call the NTSB Response Operations Center at 844-373-9922 or 202-314-6290.

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — A survivor of the plane crash on Long Island crawled over the body of her dying friend, Aleitheia Newbold, to exit the rubble in the scary and disorienting moments after the Piper PA-31 aircraft went down.

Patsy Higgs is now nursing a broken rib, a bruised back and painful limbs.

She said doctors have prescribed her “medications and depressants.”

She can barely walk and needed help to move as she gathered with Newbold’s family at Odyssey Airport yesterday for the arrival of Aleitheia’s body from Long Island to New Providence.

Higgs and the family were inconsolable as the body of the young mother was placed in a hearse.

They said Newbold was on the phone with her boyfriend as the plane fell and she cried out “my baby” in what is believed to be some of her last words.

“Before we crash she was leaning forward and she say something about the door,” Higgs recalled through tears in an exclusive interview with Eyewitness News.

“She was pointing to the door, she couldn’t see.

“She was in the back of the plane, she couldn’t see the front like how we could see.

“She leaned forward, she ain had on no seatbelt.”

Higgs said the ordeal was terrifying.

“When the plane crashed she wasn’t behind me,” she said.

“She sat in the place behind me. I thought she crawled out before me and when I crawled out, I crawl on top of her.

“She was laying there and she look like she was in pain and I tried to move her, but the pilot came and he checked on her and he said she’s okay.

“Her eyes were slightly open so I assumed she was unconscious. He said she’s unconscious. The pilot said she was unconscious, so she was still breathing.”

Higgs said the group, which included the pilot Bradley McPhee, Nia Bethel-Sears, Le’Annka Rigby, Rhiannon Thompson and Aliicia Rolle, then tried to get as far away from the smoking plane as they could.

They tried cutting through bushes, but struggled to get through the bushy marshes.

“…Because it was so many bushes we couldn’t really pass,” Higgs said.

“We had to break down branches to pass and they told us to keep going, keep going, try get as far from the plane as possible.

“I wanted to go back, but they told me I couldn’t go back and he came over and said she’s okay, she’s okay.”

Higgs said “a few hours later” the pilot started screaming that Newbold appeared in distress.

Rescuers later placed Higgs on a stretcher.

“I was so scared,” she said. “And I asked them if they leave her and I told them don’t leave her.

“We had to go and they say they had to leave her.”

Newbold’s grief-stricken relatives believe rescuers were too concerned about the daughter of Works & Utilities Minister Alfred Sears when they arrived on the scene.

Newbold’s aunt, a woman who identified herself as Retha, believes her niece would still be alive if rescuers paid more attention to her.

Higgs said: “When the rescue team came, we tried to crawl through the bushes and stuff; one of the guys, he was like, where is Minister Sears’ daughter? And Lelee (Alethia) was on the ground. She wasn’t moving. They told me she was okay.”

Retha said her niece should have gotten more attention.

“If you go on a scene where people are injured, this one sitting up, this one standing up, this one could talk, that mean they [somewhat] okay,” she said.

“That someone who lifeless, who ain’ moving, why you can’t check for them first?

“You feel like they is a nobody? You feel like they don’t have enough money?

“That’s what this is because for them to come on the scene with a plane crash and a bunch of Bahamian women they have family, and you only gon’ ask for one person child? “

She continued: “Only his daughter? You walk over someone on the ground to go to someone who standing up?”

During the ordeal, former Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis found out about the plane crash after he called Sears to discuss a constituency issue.

Minnis later spoke to one of the survivors, Aliicia Rolle, and helped her provide care and assessment to Sears’ daughter.

Minnis told Eyewitness News that he did not know the woman was Sears’ daughter.

He insisted Sears was concerned about the well-being of all on the plane, not just his daughter.

“(Sears) was concerned about everybody,” he said on Sunday.

“I hear people saying he was concerned only about his daughter, but I can say that wasn’t true.”

Investigators from the Air Accident Investigation Authority continue to investigate the crash.

Deputy Prime Minister Chester Cooper said yesterday that he’s hopeful the report can be expedited to provide answers to the families, survivors and Bahamian public.

Pilot Bradley McPhee

Pilot Bradley McPhee

Llewellyn Boyer-Cartwright
Attorney and aviation expert.

Delvin Major
Chief Investigator of the Air Accident Investigation Authority.

Llewellyn Boyer-Cartwright
Attorney and aviation expert.

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Delvin Major, the Chief Investigator of the Air Accident Investigation Authority, said yesterday the Civil Aviation Authority will assess the certifications of the pilot of the Piper PA-31 that went down in Long Island over the weekend.

“The Civil Aviation Authority are the ones responsible for certification of airlines, certification of pilots, so they will be conducting a parallel investigation along with us,” he told Eyewitness News.

“What they’re looking for is different from what we are looking for.

“We’re just looking to find out what happened. We’re not blaming anybody. We’re looking at what we can do to prevent it from happening again.”

When contacted yesterday and asked whether the flight was private or a charter, the pilot, Bradley McPhee, told Eyewitness News it was a private flight.

Seven people were on board the twin-engine aircraft that went down in bushes approximately two miles from Deadmans Cay Airport on Sunday morning. 

Aleitheia Newbold, a mother of a six-month-old baby, died.

The flight was heading from Long Island to New Providence.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration’s online portal, the plane had a valid certificate that was confirmed on March 24, 2022, and was set to expire on March 31, 2025.

According to the portal, the pilot, Bradley McPhee, obtained his Airline Transport Pilot certificate in 2014 and has an Airplane Multiengine Land rating which would make him qualified to fly planes with multiple engines.

Nonetheless, officials will ask the FAA to verify that the information on its website about the pilot is up-to-date and current, Major said.

The website notes that the pilot had a first-class medical.

It identifies the medical date as May 2016.

Investigators will determine whether the flight was for hire or not, among other things.

“The role of determining whether it’s a legal flight or a private flight or a charter flight — that’s the role of the Civil Aviation Authority,” Major said.

Attorney and aviation expert, Llewellyn Boyer-Cartwright, meanwhile, said yesterday that the regulatory requirements for a charter operation differ from that of a private operation.

“The difference between a charter operation or a private flight, if it’s a licensed operation, is that although it’s chartered as opposed to scheduled, it is still deemed commercial in nature because the aircraft is licensed by the authority and is overseen by the authority, and the operator is actually transporting passengers for hire or reward, so you pay the charterer for his services,” he said.

“So, one can say that the regulations are stricter when it comes to commercial operations.

“If it’s strictly private, meaning the owner of the aircraft owns the aircraft as anyone would say owns their car, unless you’re licensed, it’s against the law to accept money or have paying passengers.

“It’s strictly for private use, for you, your family, your friend, [and] perhaps your business.

“And if an aircraft is being used for business and it comes under a business expense you’re not charging anyone to board that aircraft, whether it’s just to pay for fuel or any other kind of incidentals or expenses.

“But having said that, private aircraft also fall under the civil aviation regulations.

“It’s just that the nature of the operation and how the regulations are enforced regarding safety, oversight, or any penalties would vary.”

From left, Nia Bethel-Sears, Allicia Rolle and Le’Annka Rigby leave from Nassau for Long Island last Thursday. On Sunday, the three friends survived a plane crash, which claimed the life of Aleitheia Newbold, 22, who had a six-month-old daughter.

Le’Annka Rigby, 26, an analyst and entrepreneur, fought hard to help keep 22-year-old Aleitheia Newbold alive after their plane went down in bushes near Deadman’s Cay Airport in Long Island on Sunday morning.

She recalled the young mother of a six-month-old girl still pleading for help more than 30 minutes after a plane, which was enroute to New Providence with seven people on board, dropped from the sky.

Rigby was seated in the copilot’s seat during the flight. She said the plane — a Piper Navajo — had just taken off when the pilot, Brad McPhee, told her he needed to turn around and head back to the airport — something that left her worried.

“I’m in the copilot’s chair, so I’m looking and then I heard this noise that sounded like an alarm or something,” she said.

“He then looks at me and said, ‘We’re going down.’ I don’t think that anything can prepare you for that. It’s not like I’m a pilot. I’m a passenger and I just happen to be in the copilot’s chair and a very skilled pilot just looked at me and said that we’re going down.

“At that point, he was very focused on the instruments and I guess trying to do the best that he could in terms of crash landing and things like that.”

Rigby said she looked back at her best friends, Nia Bethel-Sears and Allicia Rolle, and told them that the plane was going down.

“It was just a shock and one of them was just like, ‘No, no,” she said. “I was like, ‘Yeah, we’re going down.’”

Rigby said she then tightened her seat belt and moved some items to protect her feet.

She said she was scared her feet would be crushed during the crash, if she survived.

Asked to describe what she felt as the plane descended, she said, “There’s nothing that can explain it in a nice way, in a good way. You know how they say your belly drops? That’s an underestimation. My soul literally felt like it left my body because you are out of control.”

Rigby said she was worried about the plane nosediving because she was sitting in the front.

She said her mind went blank as the plane crashed.

“I can’t speak for anyone but that probably was the most haunting part of it,” said Rigby when asked about the moment the plane hit the ground.

“It was just deafening. I told myself to stay awake. I never lost consciousness. Thank God. Every nanosecond of that you feel. Every pressure that hits your body; it’s just deafening. It’s the loudest explosion you can think of in your mind. It’s to the point where you can’t even hear it. Then, it’s complete silence.”

After the crash, she lifted herself out of her seat, Rigby said.

She said the pilot then asked her if she was OK.

Rigby said she turned around and saw that the other passengers were in apparent shock at the back of the plane.

“I said, ‘Get out. We need to get out.’ He then starts to reiterate, ‘Get out.’

“The partitions near the cockpit had kind of caved in and so he started pushing them, so we could get out from in the front of the plane,” she said.

“At that point, it really hit that people are crying, people are screaming and just trying to get out. In those seconds, you’re worried about yourself. That’s the only person you can worry about.

“Immediately, I actually called out for my friends … and then all of us just started to get out — everyone on the plane who could have moved. … There were some people on the plane who could not move.

“So, you found yourself going over what you presumed at the time were lifeless bodies and you’re just thinking, ‘I have to get out. I have to get out.’

“My biggest fear was that I had already lived through this part and I could not forgive myself if this plane exploded or a fire started or anything like that.”

‘Stay with us’

Rigby said she saw Newbold when she exited the plane. She said it appeared she had been ejected.

“When Mr. McPhee had gone to assist her, by that time, the other ladies had already left the wreckage because the priority was to get away from the plane in the event of an explosion or something like that,” Rigby said.

“In this moment, it’s just me and Mr. McPhee who were mobile and who could help. I actually tried to leave but he said, ‘No, Le’Annka. I need help.’

“And so, he was assisting another passenger who was disoriented and sitting down. I can’t remember her name right now, but she was a little older. He had her seated but Aleitheia, she was face down.”

Rigby said the pilot asked her to help him with Newbold.

He then lifted her up and put her on her back, she said.

At that moment, according to Rigby, they realized that Newbold was still alive.

“We were speaking and she said, ‘Help me. Help me. Help me,’” she recalled.

“I said, ‘Don’t worry. We’re here and we’re helping you.’ Immediately, we were trying to put pressure on the wound and searching through towels and stuff we could find to put it on the wound. She was just saying that she was asthmatic and that she couldn’t really breathe. So, I was trying to elevate her to help with more oxygen flow.

“At this time, the pilot was helping her and he was on the phone trying to get us help. It was a lot going on at the same time. She kept edging her head and saying, ‘Help me. Help me. Help me.’ I told her, ‘We’re here. We’re helping you. Don’t you worry about it.’

“Mr. McPhee asked her, ‘Do you have a child?’ She said, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘Think about your child. We’re going to get out of here.’

“She was speaking. She was hurt. I asked her if she could move her legs, but she said no.

“I tried to lift her up to try to seat her in the upright position, but she said that her back was hurting really bad and that she could not sit up. It was a lot but, for about 35 to 40 minutes, she was still alive.”

Rigby said she performed CPR on Newbold, who later died at the scene of the crash.

She said the last time she performed CPR before Sunday was on her mother.

While she wished she did not have to experience the crash, Rigby lauded McPhee for his response.

“He never stopped (helping Aleithia),” she said.

“He kept saying, ‘Stay with us. Stay with us.’ But when he wasn’t doing CPR. I was doing CPR. When he was on the phone, I was administering CPR.

“When I needed to take a break because my knee was badly injured, he took over while at the same time on the phone speaking with authorities at Air Traffic Control and rendering assistance to the other lady who was disoriented. He was also going into the bushes to see if the other ladies were OK.”


Before the first responders arrived, Rigby worried that she would die in the bushes from a heat stroke or dehydration.

She said they waited for help for at least 45 minutes.

Rigby said she breathed a sigh of relief when the first person, a defense force officer by the name of Knowles, walked through the bushes to rescue them.

“The first two men who came through those bushes gave assistance to Aleitheia,” she said.

“A defense force officer did CPR and another gentleman came. He tried to do CPR, but he said he had to stop because not only is she unresponsive but there’s a really large gash on her head and he would push blood out of that and that was too dangerous.”

In an interview with Eyewitness News on Tuesday, Patsy Higgs, one of the six survivors, suggested that first responders were more focused on locating Bethel-Sears, who is the daughter of Minister of Works and Utilities Alfred Sears.

But according to Rigby, that was not the case.

“She’s talking about when about 10 or 15 of the rescuers finally came in and they were preparing us to walk out,” she said.

“We then started screaming for them to come back to the plane, so we could walk out. That was the moment when Nia, Allicia and Patsy emerged from the bushes.

“One of the rescuers — and I say one very adamantly — said, ‘Where is Sears’ daughter?’ That was not in an attempt to get her out. That was because he was on the phone speaking with her father. He had direct communication with Mr. Sears.

“Nia was the second to last person to get out of the bush. She was the second to last person to be put on oxygen and the second to last to get on the truck to go to the clinic. I can say this confidently because I was on the same truck.”

Residents of Long Island along with the Royal Bahamas Defence Force and Royal Bahamas Police Force have been heralded for their quick response to the crash.

The Air Accident Investigation Authority is investigating the cause of the accident.

Aviation Minister Chester Cooper said the investigation will likely take weeks to complete.

Alethia Newbold

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — A plane crash in Long Island this morning has left one woman dead, Deputy Commissioner of Police Clayton Fernander confirmed today.

The charter flight was heading from Long Island to New Providence.

Eyewitness News can confirm the victim is Alethia Newbold, a mother of a seven-month-old baby.

According to police, seven people were on board a twin-engine aircraft that went down in bushes approximately two miles from Deadmans Cay Airport.

Supt Audley Peters said police have reportedly located the site using coordinates given and are assisting victims with evacuation for medical assistance with the assistance of US Coast Guard helicopters.

The flight included the pilot, Brad McPhee, and six women. 

Eyewitness News understands that the daughter of Works & Utilities Minister Alfred Sears was on the plane and has been taken to the clinic.

Authorities were forced to create a pathway through bushes with a tractor to get to the scene as a crowd of people swarmed the nearby area.

Photos quickly circulated on Facebook showing the badly damaged plane and disheveled survivors.

In a later statement, the Aircraft Accident Investigation Authority (AAIA) confirmed crashed 2 nautical miles from the Deadman’s Cay Airport shortly after take-off around 9am.

“Emergency Response was immediately initiated with efforts by the Royal Bahamas Police Force, Royal Bahamas Defence Force, Airport Authority, and United States Coast Guard,” the AAIA statement read.

“Upon further investigation, it has been determined that the aircraft was a PA-31- 310, US registration N711JW with seven Souls on Board, one pilot, six passengers.”

According to the statement, a team of investigators from both the AAIA and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Bahamas (CAA-B) have been dispatched to the scene.

A woman is dead after a twin-engine aircraft with seven people on board crashed in bushes near Deadman’s Cay Airport in Long Island on Sunday morning.

According to reports, the Piper PA-31 Navajo C plane crashed at around 9am shortly after taking off.

An emergency response was initiated by the Police Force, Defence Force, Airport Authority and the United States Coast Guard and the plane was located with extensive damage in a forested area approximately two miles from the airport.

The captain confirmed that there were seven people on board with several of them injured. However, a woman died of her injuries.

The injured were evacuated from the site by police for medical assistance with the help of US Coast Guard helicopters.

A team of investigators from both the AAIA and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Bahamas has been dispatched to the scene.

Pilot Brad McPhee

DEADMANS CAY, Long Island  -  One woman has died in that plane crash on Long Island this morning.

ALEITHEIA Newbold we are learning is the victim and she is a young mother.
The flight which was headed for New Providence crashed just two miles from takeoff.

Seven persons were onboard. One died and three of those survivors were airlifted into the capital.

Public Works Minister Hon. Alfred Sears and his wife Marion Bethel are awaiting the arrival of their daughter Nia Bethel-Sears. She was also on that plane flown by Brad McPhee and sustained injuries in that crash this morning.

US Coast Guard has transported three injured victims to New Providence.


  1. A passenger's story in the local news describing the circumstances has the victim occupying the seat by the door and being ejected during the crash.

    1. Another local article includes a pre-flight photo taken with the door open. Full view of seating by the door is obscured by pax posing for the photo, but no upper headrest portion that indicates presence of a high-back seat is seen there.

      A seventh person (including pilot) seated behind the 2 + 4 high back arrangement without a 7th high back seat would presumably be seated facing sideways on a potty seat with seat belt that some of that model were equipped with.

  2. Replies
    1. The seat that is the top of the potty option includes a seat belt. You can look at Navajos for sale and see an example. Sitting sideways isn't the best in a crash, but getting ejected raises the possibility that the pilot asked someone to unlatch the door, a common off airport emergency landing precaution. A strong ground impact yaw from left wing first contact with the ground would put person #7 through an unlatched door if they had not returned to the potty seat and got their belt re-buckled in time.

    2. Seat belt is visible in actual photo of the 7th seat in for sale ad:

  3. Didn’t make above 2000 AGL. Turning back in twin engine fully loaded is not going to work. Straight ahead was water and likely all would live.

    1. 2000 AGL is sufficient as long as all is configured and the bank is kept towards the dead engine, and15 or maybe less, who knows why he didn't ditch, drowning is always a possibility there...

    2. Highest MSL reached was around 200 feet, not 2000 if you look at what Flightaware was able to capture of the ADS-B transmission:

      Low altitudes (200-400 feet MSL) are also seen for the first four minutes of this previous departure on June 3 from Deadman's Cay:

      A second Deadman's Cay departure on Jun 3 also had several minutes of low altitude flight after takeoff:

      The Bahama Accident Investigators should download the engine data stored in both CGR-30P Engine Monitors and take a good look at what that engine data shows during those two 3 June departures.

      The low altitudes for several minutes after both of those takeoffs on June 03 might just be a "buzz" of the Cay for enjoyment of passengers, but the family members deserve verification that no indications of malfunction are present that required "nursing" of an engine during previous operation of the aircraft.

      Engine data download and review is essential for understanding.

  4. Im assuming he was at gross with that many people and enough fuel to complete the flight but i thought the Navajo had great single engine performance. Possibly over gross ? Or improper single engine operation by the pilot ? The pilot seemed to know rather quickly that they were not going to stay airborne.

    1. "great" isn't a word normally associated with any piston engined twin engine out performance, they all seem to be in the 300fpm area, or less

  5. Any attorney that would pose with a jet in the background is an obvious fool. He should have his picture taken chasing an ambulance. He’s an expert alright!

    1. Llewellyn is an ATP with over 30 years’ logged flight-time experience. He was a Captain for Bahamasair and Laker Airways. He is also type-rated for most of the Boeing aircraft. He owns a few private jets.

    2. Looking beyond the go-to bash of the attorney-pilot, Llewellyn's comments are valid about above board charter operations vs. "I know a guy who can take you there cheaper than the charter company".

      The accident aircraft isn't in the list of 135 operators:

      FAA's web page on the subject:

    3. May 6, 2022: Llewellyn Boyer-Cartwright ... Bahamas urged target 80% in next aviation safety audit.

  6. Recently sold, temporary certificate issue date of 03/24/2022.
    Info from for sale advert:
    - Lycoming TIO-540-A2C engines with only 280 hours SMOH and just 10 since all 12 cylinders overhauled. (Engines overhauled December 2007, 2021 Top Overhaul, all 12 cylinders overhauled)
    - Electronics International CGR-30P Engine Monitors
    - Useful Load 2,180 lbs

    1. The CGR-30P Engine Monitor records data at three samples per second to an internal SD card. Should be possible to recover the as-flown engine data. A 2015 Pitts NTSB docket report gives an example of recorded data from that model engine monitor:

  7. What a horrific situation. Rest in peace to the deceased, and hopefully those who lived can find some peace in time. Cannot imagine the terror.

  8. Preliminary report from Bahama Investigator is out. Low oil pressure, confirms passenger was ejected during crash:

    1. Report says left engine lost oil pressure then lost power, then the right engine experienced power loss.

  9. Dual engine failure right after take-off sounds like a miss-fueling with jet fuel accident.

    Likely lost oil pressure on the left engine after a hole was burned in a piston and then failed completely possibly after the crankcase may have been
    breached from a broken connecting rod? Right engine lost power for the same reason shortly afterwards.

    Rest in Peace Ms. Newbold. Praying for her family and the survivors as well.

    1. Or an out-of-fuel/wrong fuel tank selection situation. Because if it was jet fuel, that would have been found out very quickly at the crash site and included in the report.