This photo released by Costa Rica’s Civil Aviation press office shows the site of a plane crash in Punta Islita, Guanacaste, Costa Rica, Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017. A government statement says there were 10 foreigners and two Costa Rican crew members aboard the plane belonging to Nature Air, which had taken off nearby. (Costa Rica’s Civil Aviation press office via AP)

12 killed in Costa Rica plane crash

10 U.S. citizens including families from Florida, NY die in Costa Rica plane crash

Costa Rican investigators are looking into what caused a charter aircraft to crash in woods in the country’s northwest soon after takeoff, killing two crewmembers and 10 U.S. citizens, including families from New York and Florida.

The families from Scarsdale, N.Y., and Belleair, Florida, accounted for nine of the dead. It remained unclear who the 10th victim was.

Costa Rican officials had said they were still seeking to establish the names of the Americans who died when the Nature Air plane went down at midday Sunday in Guanacaste.

But back at home, stunned family and friends began to confirm the victims’ identities.

A family in the suburbs of New York City said five of the dead were relatives on vacation. They identified them as Bruce and Irene Steinberg and their sons Matthew, William and Zachary, all of Scarsdale.

“We are in utter shock and disbelief right now,” Bruce Steinberg’s sister, Tamara Steinberg Jacobson, wrote on Facebook.

Rabbi Jonathan Blake of the Westchester Reform Temple in Scarsdale said in a statement posted on the temple’s Facebook page and emailed to The Associated Press that the Steinbergs were involved in philanthropy and local Jewish groups. “This tragedy hits our community very hard,” Blake wrote.

In Saint Petersburg, Florida, Rabbi Jacob Luski of Congregation B’nai Israel said Monday that victims’ relatives had informed him that four members of his congregation were also on the plane.

“It is a tragedy that the Drs. Mitchell Weiss and Leslie Weiss and their two children, Hannah and Ari, died in that terrible crash,” he said. “They were a wonderful family who will be missed.”

At a news conference Sunday, Enio Cubillo, director of Costa Rica Civil Aviation, said the Nature Air charter crashed shortly after taking off just after noon Sunday from Punta Islita on a planned flight to the capital of San Jose. He said investigators were looking into possible causes.

Cubillo identified the pilot as Juan Manuel Retana and described him as very experienced. Former Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla said via Twitter that Retana was her cousin.

The same plane had arrived in Punta Islita on Sunday morning from San Jose and was delayed in landing by strong winds, Cubillo said.

Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solis Rivera offered his condolences to the families of the victims via Twitter and said the cause of the crash would be investigated.

Forensic workers recovered the bodies from the wooded site Sunday night. Local fire chief Jhony Garcia said the plane’s wreckage was completely burned up.

Nature Air did not respond to phone and email messages.

___

Associated Press writers Colleen Long in New York, Jennifer Kay in Miami Beach, Florida and Christopher Sherman in Mexico City contributed to this report.

Javier Cordoba, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

Just Posted

EMCS Wolverines off to slow start

Wolverines start season 0-2

Victoria Police investigate stabbing on Douglas

Police were called to the 800-block around 1:30 p.m.

Esquimalt Lagoon’s driftwood birds get festive for the holidays

Artist Paul Lewis spread some holiday cheer at the Lagoon this weekend

Santa Slam tourney at Mount Doug feature’s top AAA boys teams

Santa Slam basketball tournament starts Thursday at Mount Douglas

Travel tips for passing through the Victoria airport this holiday season

It may be small in size but Victoria International Airport was voted one of the top 10 busiest in Canada

Man caught on camera allegedly trying to defraud ICBC

Auto-insurer warns B.C. drivers to record info after crashes

Teenager Alphonso Davies wins Canadian Men’s Soccer Player for the Year Award

Derek Cornelius and Chilliwack native, Jordyn Huitema were named Canadian Youth International Players of the Year

B.C. teen MMA fighter show heart

Young Unity MMA competitors bring home Ws

2,000 Canadians died of an overdose in first 6 months of the year

New data from the Public Health Agency of Canada shows the crisis is not subsiding

Baptists aren’t the ones to blame

Re: Lack of shelter leaves homeless out in the cold (News, Dec.… Continue reading

LETTERS: Traffic on roundabout is a tragedy waiting to happen

Re: New laws will make roads safer (Our View, Dec. 12) I’m… Continue reading

Another B.C. city votes to ban single-use plastic bags

First six months of proposed ban would focus on education, not enforcement

LETTERS: Finish repainting Otter Point Road lines

In June, September and November, I requested the lines on Otter Point… Continue reading

UK Prime Minister Theresa May wins party no-confidence vote, but troubles remain

May won the vote of 317 Conservative legislators with a 200-117 tally

Most Read