A small FedEx plane crashed just off Fort Bay on Wednesday, just after noon, writes The Daily Herald.
The pilot, who was the only man on board, survived the ordeal and is in stable condition after swiftly being rescued by a nearby vessel.
According to a Times Caribbean Online article, the pilot reported engine trouble to Air Traffic Control at St. Kitts’ Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport. He had been on the way to St. Kitts from San Juan, Puerto Rico. Not able to make it to St. Kitts, the pilot was forced to attempt an emergency landing in either St. Maarten or Saba.
The Daily Herald understands that the plane requested an emergency landing on St. Maarten, but it was too far away. The pilot then attempted to land on Saba but was unable to, and crashed as he attempted to circle and land at Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport.
“It was a FedEx plane and it was flying really low… we wondered what was happening and suddenly it hit the water and spun, you could see it floating for a bit and then it went down” said an anonymous source in Saba.
According to Saba’s Government Information Service (GIS), the Harbour Master said that at the moment the aircraft went into the sea, his office was alerted by Mayday calls from vessels in the vicinity of the crash. Those vessels immediately responded and the pilot of the aircraft was rescued by one of the vessels.
GIS says the aircraft crashed at approximately 12:10pm, about 100 yards from shore in an area of the marine park known as Tent Reef, which is very close to Fort Bay, the Island’s main harbour.
After being rescued and brought into the harbour by a vessel, the pilot was transported to Saba’s A. M. Edwards Medical Center by ambulance and then to St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) for further checkup and treatment. He is in stable condition, but this newspaper understands that he broke a hand.
GIS further stated that attempts were made by boats in the area to salvage the aircraft, a Cessna Grand Caravan C 208, but it quickly sank in approximately 1500 feet of water.
The local police and fire departments came to the scene. Besides the nearby vessels, an RHIB (rigid hull inflatable boat) from the Coast Guard in St. Maarten responded, and was on the crash scene in approximately 45 minutes.
Local authorities have been in contact with officials in the country where the aircraft is registered to inform them of the incident, GIS stated. The cause of the incident is under investigation.
A similar such crash in October 2014 left two dead when a small FedEx double engine SH36 aircraft crashed into the sea shortly after takeoff from Princess Juliana International Airport SXM.