The Naval Air Station (NAS) at Jacksonville confirmed that the bodies of a dog and two cats owned by a military family were recovered from the aircraft floating on St. Johns River.
“Every possible avenue to rescue these animals was pursued following the incident. One animal that traveled in the cabin was safely removed by its owner,” NAS Jacksonville said in a Facebook post dated May 5.
The station described the recovery effort as a “sad task” conducted in the “most dignified way possible with the base veterinarian on site to ensure all protocols were followed.”
“The animals will be cremated through a local company,” NAS Jacksonville said.
Update on the pets aboard the aircraft: A dog and two cats belonging to a military family have been recovered from the…
The station was unable to rescue the animals earlier because it could not guarantee the safety of rescue crew members.
“Many people are asking about the pets aboard the aircraft that skidded off the runway into the St. Johns River last night at NAS Jacksonville. Unfortunately, they have not been retrieved yet due to safety issues with the aircraft,” NAS Jacksonville said in a Facebook post dated May 4. “Our hearts and prayers go out to those pet owners during this terrible incident.”
Many people are asking about the pets aboard the aircraft that skidded off the runway into the St. Johns River last…
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) sent a team of investigators to inspect the partially submerged aircraft. Rescuers searched in the cargo area but saw no crates and heard no animal noises. They also did not see any pet carriers above water.
The station confirmed that all humans aboard the plane had walked away from the crash without critical injuries, with only a 3-month-old baby being sent to hospital as a precaution.
“I think it is a miracle,” NAS Jacksonville Captain Michael Connor told AP. “We could be talking about a different story this evening.”
Investigators will continue to examine the aircraft for any potential environmental and human factors that could have caused the plane to roll into the river. One factor, which has been widely reported, is that the pavement on the runway was not grooved.
***Plane incident update***At approximately 9:40 p.m. today, a Boeing 737 arriving from Naval Station Guantanamo Bay,…
The plane took on from Naval Station Guantanamo Bay in Cuba with 136 passengers and seven crew members. It was a regular charter run by Miami Air International, which has many military contracts to run weekly flights between Guantanamo Bay, Jacksonville, and Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland.
The aircraft had no prior history of accidents, according to NTSB Vice Chairman Bruce Landsberg.
Survivor Cheryl Bormann described the chaotic landing as bouncing.
“It was clear that the pilot did not have complete control of the plane because it bounced some more, it swerved and tilted left and right,” she said. “The pilot was trying to control it but couldn’t and then, all of a sudden, it smashed into something.”
No passengers screamed because flight staff worked quickly to give directions, according to Bormann, who works as a defense attorney.
The passengers included military personnel, their family members, and civilians.
Connor was unable to confirm if heavy rain had impacted the flight.
“I was at home when this happened and there were thunderstorms and lightning,” he said.
The plane was due to return to Cuba on May 4 to carry other members of the military, lawyers, and others to Andrews.
Crews have already begun containing jet fuel leaks and the plane is unlikely to float away because the landing gear appears to be resting on the riverbed, according to Connor.
“We’re obviously very concerned about the environment and we’re doing everything we can to contain it,” he said. “Once we were assured that personnel were safe, our next priority effort was to … contain any type of fuel.”
There has been no time frame provided for when the plane will be removed from the river.
“We have challenges because bottom half of fuselage is covered with water [sic],” Landsberg said.
NAS Jacksonville, Fla. – At approximately 9:40 p.m. today, a Boeing 737 arriving from Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba…
Associated Press contributed to this report.