A plane drove into the St. Johns River by the Naval Air Station in Jacksonville (NAS Jax), injuring 21 of the aircraft’s 142 passengers. No deaths occurred in the accident.
The Miami Air International Boeing 737-800 was journeying down the runway when it unintentionally turned into the river, submerging in shallow water. The incident occurred on Friday, May 3rd, around 9:40 p.m.
There were 136 passengers on the plane, in addition to seven crew members, totaling 142 people. The passengers consisted of military members and civilians. The Federal Aviation Administration reported that the plane was contracted by the Department of Defense, and was landing in NAS Jax from the Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The cabin was reported to be free of water when assistance arrived. The passengers stood on the wings while awaiting help.
The 21 injured passengers were taken to nearby hospitals to treat minor injuries. According to NAS Jacksonville Commanding Officer Capt. Mike Conner, “… Some bumps, bruises, no broken bones,” occurred, as stated by First Coast News. Miami Air International offered $2,500 to each of the plane’s passengers, describing it as a “goodwill gesture” in an official report. The report stated that the luggage recovered from the submerged plane will be cleaned and returned.
The only casualties of the incident were an undisclosed number of pets that we aboard the plane. The plane manifest reported the presence of four pets, but it is possible that there were more pets on the aircraft. The plane’s cargo storage bay was checked for the pets, but first responders retreated when they could not hear any animals or see their crates. The responders’ second trip to the cargo area was also unsuccessful. Via a social media update, officials from NAS Jax stated that the animals had “not been retrieved yet due to safety issues with the aircraft,” and offered their condolences to the passengers who lost pets in the accident.
The cause of the incident is still under investigation, however, the National Transportation Safety Board reported that the plane’s maintenance log described an inoperative left-hand thrust reverser. A shortened runway may have also contributed — there was a barrier that limited the 9,000-foot-long runway to a distance of about 7,800 feet. The plane’s flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder were recovered, and will be used in the ongoing investigation of the crash.