Bahamas Mourns Miami Crash Victims

Hardbeatnews, MIAMI, FL, Weds. Dec. 20, 2005: As salvaging efforts began in full force by the Coast Guard here yesterday, just 50 miles east across the water, residents of the Bahamian island of Bimini are in mourning.

The Tuesday afternoon crash claimed the lives of 11 residents from this tiny 7-mile long island, where everyone knew each other. The Chalk Ocean Airways twin-engine Grumman G-73T Turbo Mallard crash claimed the lives of all 20 on board. Nineteen of the deceased, including three children, have been recovered but the 20th remains missing.

Among the dead are Sergio Danguillecourt, a member of the Bacardi Limited board of directors and a great-great grandson of its founder. The 42-year-old was killed along with his wife and passengers Sophia Hinsley-Sherman and her daughter, Bethany, who reportedly took the last available seat.

Bahamas Prime Minister Perry Christie expressed his “deepest condolences” to area residents and dispatched two members of his cabinet to the area visit the homes of those who lost loved ones.

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board yesterday said the initial reason for the crash was a wing, which apparently separated from the fuselage of the twin-engine seaplane. But they added it was “very early to understand” what really happened. The NTSB says the carrier has had at least nine accidents prior to yesterday’s, with one in 1994 led killing two pilots near Key West.

Meanwhile, Coast Guard Captain of the Port in Miami, Capt. James Maes, said salvage operations would be temporarily suspended until 6 a.m. this morning to allow commercial and recreational vessels to be allowed to transit Government Cut on a limited basis.

There is no anticipated time for a permanent re-opening of the waterway. –