Girl Survives Deadly Plane Crash in Panama
PANAMA CITY – The 12-year-old U.S. girl who was the lone survivor of a plane crash in a remote mountain region of Panama over Christmas week was released from the hospital Dec. 31,authorities said.
Francesca Lewis had been transferred to a hospital Dec. 26 after being rescued from the site of the crash a day earlier. She was expected to return home to Santa Barbara, California, this week with family members.
Rescue workers had to carry her for hours on a stretcher to a spot where a helicopter could land and then take her to a hospital in the town of David, the capital of the western province of Chiriqui.
The airplane, a Panamanian-registered Cessna 172 with four people on board, disappeared Dec. 23 while flying between Isla Seca, in the Pacific, and Volcan, in Chiriqui.
At the time she was rescued, Lewis was suffering from hypothermia and multiple trauma, but in “general terms” her state of health is good, authorities said.
The bodies of the three who perished in the crash – the Panamanian pilot, Eric Santos; U.S. businessman Michael Klein, 38; and his 12-year-old daughter Thalia, Francesca’s friend – had not yet been recovered by press time, though authorities had begun the process of doing so.
Bad weather has been cited as one of the probable causes of the accident, according to the director of the Civil Aviation Authority, Eustacio Fabrega, although he added that authorities still are unsure of the precise reason for the crash.
“The weather was very bad, which also affected the search by air; that’s why we had to launch the rescue by land with personnel from Sinaproc (National Civil Protection System),” he said.
The director of Sinaproc, Roberto Velasquez, said that the plane was found Dec. 25 by voluntary rescue workers in the Alto del Chiquero sector at a height of 3,500 feet on one of the slopes of the Baru Volcano.
“We found one of the wings in a tree branch and part of the fuselage in another part, which tells us the aircraft broke apart,” Velasquez said, adding that two of the bodies had been incinerated.
The official said the most likely scenario is that Lewis, who was found by rescue workers at a spot several meters from the site of the accident, was ejected from the aircraft when the crash occurred.
You may be interested
Honduran opposition protesters take to the streetsNoe Leiva / AFP - December 15, 2017
Supporters of the leftist opposition in Honduras blocked streets in various cities around that country on Friday, despite political repression,…
Of snow, kindness and Northern Lights: a Costa Rican in Manitoba, CanadaGustavo Díaz Cruz - December 14, 2017
My mom named me Gustavo Adolfo. I was born in Puntarenas, next to the sea, but my home was in…
Response to disaster: aid successes, struggles in post-Maria Puerto RicoJohn McPhaul - December 13, 2017
As Costa Rica joins many other nations in looking back upon the horrendous 2017 hurricane season, longtime Tico Times contributor…