According to CNN, a small plane crashed in Costa Rica on Sunday, leaving 10 United States citizens and 2 local crew members dead. The single-engine plane crashed in Nandayure, located in the Costa Rican providence of Guanacaste. Several sources, including CNN and ABC, claim that an American family from New York was on board, including Bruce, Irene, William, William, and Zachary Steinberg. The Security Minister for Costa Rica, Gustavo Mata, related to the press that there were no survivors and autopsies will be used to confirm the identity of the victims. The director of Costa Rica Civil Aviation, Enio Cubillo, confirmed to ABC the plane was a charter flight from Nature Air and was headed from Punta Islita to the capital of San Jose. One crew member was the cousin of a previous president and was an experienced pilot for the popular airline.
The cause of the crash is currently unknown, but an investigation will be held to determine what happened. The same plane had experienced a delay early Sunday due to strong winds, but it is unknown whether winds contributed to the crash. Near the time of the crash, Accuweather reports for Nandayure showed winds of about 5 miles per hour and scattered clouds. The plane crashed in a wooded area and initial photographs and videos released by the Costa Rican government show a heavy forest in the background. Officials said the investigation will begin Monday morning.
Laura Chinchilla, Costa Rica’s former president, wrote on social media that one of the crew members killed in the crash was her cousin. Juan Manuel Retana left behind numerous family members including children. Juan Manuel Retana was known to be an experienced pilot. President Luis Guillermo Solis Rivera expressed his condolences to the family and pledged the support of the government during the crash investigation.
Nature Air, the commercial airline company who owned the plane that crashed, had not issued a comment at the time of writing. The company is deemed the largest private airline in Costa Rica and their website states that more than 110,000 passengers will travel Central America on their flights. The company has been in business since 1990 and was started by two Alaskans collaborating with a tourist company, Naturegate. Nature Air caters to tourists, researchers, environmentalists, and others traveling the country in need of private flights.