Two local pilots and 10 American tourists were killed in Costa Rica on Sunday when a charter plane crashed into a mountain, according to Costa Rican officials.
Tourists visiting the popular Guanacaste province on the Pacific Coast watched the small plane take a nose dive into a wooded area around noon, shortly after taking off from Punta Islita Airport. It was headed about 140 miles east for the capital, San José, according to the New York Times.
By the time emergency responders arrived, all that was left were the charred remains of the single-engine, Nature Air flight as well as everyone who was aboard.
Costa Rica’s Ministry of Public Security posted pictures and videos on its Facebook page.
#VIDEO #ÚltimaHora #NoticiaLamentable Aeronave de Seguridad Pública MSP 006 confirma la localización de una aeronave en llamas, siniestrada. Estamos así confirmando accidente aéreo en Guanacaste, por el sector de Punta Islita. Es aeronave privada con 10 pasajeros extranjeros y 2 tripulantes nacionales, la aeronave es de Nature Air TI-BEI. Fallecidos.
Posted by Ministerio de Seguridad Pública on Sunday, December 31, 2017
Among the Americans was a family of five from Scarsdale, a suburb of New York City, according to the NYT.
Irene and Bruce Steinberg were with their three sons William, Zachary and Matthew on the last stop of their winter trip before heading home.
“They were the kind of people you would like to have many of,” a relative told the newspaper. “They always did everything as a family.”
There was also another family of three from Bellair, Fla., according to the New York Daily News.
The former president of Costa Rica, Laura Chinchilla said on Twitter that her cousin was one of the local crew members that was killed.
La fatalidad se interpone en las celebraciones de familia. Nuestro querido primo fallece como parte de la tripulación de la avioneta siniestrada en Guanacaste. Fuerza a sus hijos y hermanos y paz a sus restos.
Permanecerás en nuestro corazón querido #JuanManuelRetana
— Laura Chinchilla M. (@Laura_Ch) December 31, 2017
An American tourist as well as a pilot died in a similar Nature Air crash last year.
“I am in solidarity, on behalf of the people and government of Costa Rica, with the families of those who died in today’s tragic air crash,” Costa Rica President Luis Guillermo Solís Rivera said in a Facebook post. “To them, who lost their loved ones, peace and resignation in this hour of deep pain.”