July 12 – A cargo plane bound for St. Martin plunged into the sea after reporting engine trouble following takeoff from San Juan early Monday, Coast Guard officials said.
A Coast Guard helicopter pulled the plane's co-pilot from a field of floating debris described by the Coast Guard as being 29 nautical miles south of Beef Island, which is off the eastern end of Tortola in the British Virgin Islands.
The man, suffering from a head injury, was flown by helicopter to St. Thomas, where the Coast Guard pilot made a dramatic sidewalk landing outside Roy L. Schneider Hospital, which does not have a copter landing pad, Lt. j.g. Eric Willis, Coast Guard spokesman, said.
Two Coast Guard ships and a merchant ship in the are were searching for the missing 82-year-old pilot, Willis said. The pilot was the only other person aboard the twin-engine, 81-foot long Convair 440, which was carrying dried food to St. Martin, Willis said
The plane's crew radioed the air traffic control tower in Puerto Rico shortly after takeoff, reporting they had lost one of their engines and could not maintain altitude.
A passing plane reported the downed aircraft to the Coast Guard at 7:30 a.m., Willis said. Later in the day Monday, he said the debris field was moving toward St. Croix.
No additional information about the flight or its crew was immediately available.
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