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Punta Islita - Members Of Two Jewish Families, Including 5 Westchester Residents, Believed To Be Among 10 American Tourists, Killed In Costa Rican Plane Crash

Published on: December 31, 2017 09:04 PM
Last updated on: December 31, 2017 10:48 PM
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Punta Islita, Costa Rica - Five members of a Jewish family from Scarsdale, New York are believed to be among the 12 people who died today in a fiery Costa Rican plane crash that took place this afternoon in a remote mountainous area.

Costa Rican news site El Mundo reported (http://bit.ly/2C5Fkyg) that Nature Air flight 1196 crashed while taking off from Punta Islita on its way to Juan Santamaria International Airport this morning. 

Several callers called to report an explosion followed by a fire on a mountain in Guanacaste.  There were no survivors.

All ten tourists aboard the plane are confirmed to be Americans, but no official identifications have been made yet at this time, with conflicting passenger manifests surfacing over the past few hours. 

Bruce, Irene, Matthew, William and Zachary Steinberg of Scarsdale, members of the Westchester Reform Temple, are all believed to be among the dead.


Several members of another Jewish family, Mitchell Weiss, Leslie Levin Weiss, Hannah Mae Weiss and Ari Moses Weiss, may have also been on board, but are not all are listed on all of the passenger listings that have been released at this time.  Also believed to be on board were Amanda Rae Geissler and Gene Wing Szeto.

Half of the Americans believed to be on board were under the age of twenty. The Steinberg children, Zachary, William and Matthew were 19, 18 and 13 years old and the Weiss children, Hannah Mae and Ari Moses were 19 and 16 years old.

“We are in utter shock and disbelief right now,” Bruce Steinberg’s sister, Tamara Steinberg Jacobson, wrote on Facebook. She also confirmed the deaths in an interview with NBC News.

Rabbi Jonathan Blake of the Westchester Reform Temple in Scarsdale said the Steinbergs were involved in philanthropy and local Jewish groups. “They will be deeply missed,” he told the New York Post.

Costa Rican officials confirmed that veteran pilots Juan Manuel Retana and Emma Ramos Calderon died in the crash.  Former Costa Rican president Laura Chinchilla tweeted her grief, noting that she and Retana were cousins.

Rabbi Hershel Spalter of Chabad of Costa Rica said that it will likely take until Tuesday to recover the victims’ badly burned bodies and transport them to the Morgue Hospital San Juan de Dios, located more than four hours away from the crash site. 

DNA checks will be done to confirm the victims’ identities and autopsies, something Rabbi Spalter described as an unavoidable reality in Costa Rica, will be performed.

Nature Air did not immediately return calls for comment, but a press release issued by the company that was obtained by Costa Rican news site AmeliaRueda.com (http://bit.ly/2C2XCQU) said that passengers on the ill-fated plane were part of a group that had been split in two.

The first planeload of passengers left Punta Islita at 11 AM and arrived safely in San Jose 40 minutes later. 
The second group of passengers were delayed on their return to San Jose, according to El Mundo (http://bit.ly/2C4yxVN), which reported that the American made Cessna 208B Grand Caravan made an unscheduled stop at the Quepos airport on its way to Punta Islita because of high winds. 

Once the weather conditions improved, the flight crew notified air traffic controllers that they were resuming their flight where they picked up the ten remaining passengers for their trip to Juan Santamaria.

The flight is believed to have left Punta Islita at 11:10 AM, but it crashed and exploded several moments later.  Rescue crews were alerted to the wreckage at 12:20, according to Costa Rican civil aviation director Enio Cubillo.  The first rescue workers that arrived on scene reported that no survivors had been found.

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Read Comments (2)  —  Post Yours »


 Dec 31, 2017 at 09:56 PM elyeh Says:



 Dec 31, 2017 at 10:35 PM triumphinwhitehouse Says:

Terrible, jews are zero percent of the world population but always suffer. May only anti semites and their enablers suffer such fate.


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