Saturday, May 4, 2019

Investigation begins after Boeing 737 skids into Florida river

Federal investigators were traveling to Jacksonville, Fla., on Saturday to probe what led a charter Boeing 737 jet carrying 136 passengers and seven crew members to skid off the runway and into a shallow river the previous night.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said on Twitter that 16 investigators were traveling to Naval Air Station Jacksonville to probe the crash, which local authorities said sent 21 people to the hospital with minor injuries.

Federal authorities also indicated that they had recovered the plane's flight data recorder.

One passenger said the plane had a "really hard landing" followed by a "crash stop."

"As we went down, we had a really hard landing, and then the plane bounced and screeched and bounced some more, and it lifted to the right, and then it lifted to the left, and then it sort of swerved, and then it came to a complete, like a crash stop," Cheryl Bormann, a civilian defense attorney aboard the plane, told CNN, adding that she was uninjured besides a bump on the head.

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry (R) tweeted Friday night that the "White House called to help as the situation was developing."

The Boeing 737-800 jet, which was chartered by the U.S. military from Miami Air International and was arriving from Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, was attempting to land during a thunderstorm when it slid off the runway into the St. Johns River on Friday evening.

The military contracts the charter company for its twice-weekly “rotator” round-trip flight between the U.S. mainland and Guantánamo Bay, with Jacksonville serving as a pit stop between Norfolk, Va., and Cuba.

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