Investigators say turbulence caused the May 31, 2005 plane crash off the Pacific coast in which five men – mostly foreigners – died.
A sixth man survived after he leaped from the plane, parachuted into the ocean and clung to a log until he was rescued (TT, June 3, 2005). Investigations by the Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ) and the Civil Aviation Administration both concluded that the Cessna 206 airplane flown by seasoned Costa Rican pilot Jorge Meléndez was knocked out of control by turbulent air before crashing into the ocean off the central Pacific coast, the daily Al Día reported.
The sole survivor, U.S. citizen William Slattery, 34, was the first to leap from the plane after it hit stormy conditions, and was followed by others on board, the daily reported. Slattery testified that he could see the others falling from the plane after he jumped, and saw when they hit the ocean.
He tried to swim toward them, but was unable to because of ocean currents. The man instead clung to a log floating in the water until a fishing boat rescued him more than 24 hours later.
The airplane crashed minutes after taking off from the La Yolanda airstrip at Esterillos, carrying the men for a skydiving jump. The victims were Jeán Roman, 23, a Costa Rican citizen who grew up in the United States; Canadian citizen Milton Burton, 53, who owned the plane and the skydiving company that was running the operation; the pilot Meléndez, 54; U.S. citizen James Simplicio and Mexican citizen Emmanuel Sánchez. The ages of the last two were not provided.