FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) - Investigators say the bodies of a pilot and a doctor were lost after a Mexico-bound medical flight crashed into the Atlantic off South Florida.
The jet was returning Nov. 19 to its base in Cozumel, Mexico, after dropping off a patient from San Jose, Costa Rica, in Fort Lauderdale. In a preliminary report released last week, National Transportation Safety Board investigators said there was no evidence of inflight or post-crash fire.
The bodies of the co-pilot and a flight nurse were recovered. After searching 4,000 square miles and recovering more than 1,000 pounds of debris, authorities ended the search for the pilot and the doctor.
Mexican officials identified pilot Jose Hiram Galvan de la O, co-pilot Josue Buendia Moreno, Dr. Fernando Senties Nieto and nurse Mariana Gonzalez Isunza.
The plane crashed shortly after taking off from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. The wind was calm and visibility was nine miles, investigators said.
According to the NTSB report, the plane climbed to 2,200 feet before the pilot reported an engine failure and asked to make a 180-degree turn back to the airport.
Over the next few minutes, the pilot requested and acknowledged directions to make that turn, but the plane continued flying north and parallel to shore, according to the report.
The plane had descended to roughly 700 feet before it began turning toward shore, investigators said. It descended to 100 feet above the ocean before it disappeared from radar.
The jet was manufactured in 1979, and its most recent continuous airworthiness inspection was completed Nov. 4, according to FAA and maintenance records.
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