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

Surrey boy’s birthday wish raises $13,500 for rescued farm animals in Aldergrove

Matthew Farden received a large donation from the mister Blake Foundation towards a sanctuary farm.

Langley Mounties get new tool to find drunk drivers

New legislation take effect this week that will allow broader breathalyzer testing.

Trial date postponed for man charged with killing Abbotsford police officer

Oscar Arfmann’s trial pushed back from January to May 2019

BCIHL Young Stars lose hard-fought hockey game to Kazakhstan at Langley Events Centre

Coach calls it ‘a great opportunity for those guys to have an international experience’

How some Langley students used spare change, bake sales and candy-cane-grams to help the needy

This week, three families will have a better Christmas as a result

Story of the Year: Deadly Humboldt Broncos bus crash

The Canadian Press annual survey of newsrooms across the country saw 53 out of 129 editors cast their votes for the Humboldt Broncos bus crash.

VIDEO: Tornado rips through city west of Seattle

Reports indicate five to seven homes damaged in Port Orchard, Wash.

Privacy watchdog says legal cannabis buyers should use cash, not credit

Some countries could bar entry to individuals if they know they have purchased cannabis

Emergency task force calls for safe supply of drugs in Vancouver to prevent ODs

Dr. Patricia Daly says more people are dying alone in the city than elsewhere in the province

‘A start:’ Alberta critical of Ottawa’s $1.6B package for ailing energy sector

A further $150 million is to be used for clean growth and infrastructure projects

New B.C. Lions coach DeVone Claybrooks adds eight to coaching staff

DeVone Claybrooks has filled out his staff for the 2019 season

Two-year-old attacked by cougar near Mission, B.C.

Boy not seriously injured in incident on Monday afternoon

Trump signs order to create US Space Command

President Donald Trump signs an executive order to create a U.S. Space Command.

Groups preparing new pipeline legal challenge, argue government’s mind made up

A Vancouver-based environment charity is readying itself to go back to court if the federal government reapproves the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

Most Read