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Hope crashes

Published:Monday | September 8, 2014 | 9:00 AM
A JDF team refuelling yesterday to rejoin the search for the plane which crashed off the coast of Portland.The search at sea has since been suspended. - photo by Gareth Davis

Chad Bryan, Staff Reporter

Active search called off; waiting for bodies, wreckage to wash up

Prospects are rapidly fading in the search for the ill-fated, single-engine, turboprop aircraft, with prominent American real-estate developer Larry Glazer and his wife, Jane, aboard, following reports that the United States Coast Guard cutter has returned home and the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) suspended active search by late afternoon yesterday.

In a news release posted on the United States Coast Guard website yesterday, chief of response management, Captain Todd M. Coggeshell, was quoted as saying that the decision was made to suspend the search because nothing was found.

"After a search area is saturated several times with a maximum number of assets, resources and crew effort, and persons in distress are still not located, a decision is made to suspend a case," he said in the release.

Civil/military cooperation officer at the JDF, Major Basil Jarrett, said that if nothing had been found, scouring the sea would have been suspended yesterday.

"We have decided to call off the active search today (yesterday). What that means is that we will no longer be searching at sea and so any search effort that we'll carry out will be done from the coastline. In other words, we are looking to see if anything will wash up on the shore," he said.

Jarrett said that he was dissatisfied that the JDF was unable to locate the aircraft as well as the Glazers and to bring closure to their family following the plane crash. However, he was satisfied with the response time of the JDF.

"In terms of our ability to respond, our turnaround time, I think we're very satisfied with our response. It really provided a test of our systems. We had aircraft in the air within 45 minutes of the plane going down. We knew that the plane was approaching Jamaican airspace before it actually entered our airspace. It proves to us that our systems are working and it confirms that our men are able to respond in the event of a situation like this," he said.

Chargé d'affaires at the United States Embassy in Kingston, Elizabeth Martinez, praised the Jamaican authorities for their quick response to the crash of the plane on the afternoon of September 5.

In the meantime, director general of the Jamaica Civil Aviation Authority (JCAA), Leroy Lindsay, said the JCAA has been in contact with the French as the brand new aircraft was manufactured in France in early 2014.

According to Lindsay, the French have volunteered to be a part of the search and recovery operation but would most likely come in at the investigation stage.

"What we have to go on now is what we are told by the Federal Aviation Authority on the contact between the aircraft and air traffic control," he said. Lindsay continued that recordings between air traffic control and the plane will form a major part of the investigation.

chad.bryan@gleanerjm.com