Jacksonville, FL — A plane with 143 people on board has crashed in to the St. Johns River, after sliding off a runway at Naval Air Station Jacksonville.
The Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department says 21 adults were transported to area hospitals. All were listed in good condition, and nobody had critical injuries. The Commanding Officer of NAS Jacksonville, Captain Michael Connor, says the injuries are “bumps and bruises”, and the outcome is a miracle.
“It could have been much worse,” he says.
More than 80 members of JFRD responded to triage the scene. JFRD says their Special Operations team happened to train for an incident like this involving marine units on Friday. JSO, the Coast Guard, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and Navy assets were also mobilized.
Naval Air Station Jacksonville reports this plane is a Boeing 737 that was traveling from Naval Air Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba in to Naval Air Station Jacksonville. The base says the plane slid off the runway and in to the River, where it is in shallow water at this time. Connor says it’s unclear right now how long it will take to remove the plane from the water.
The plane is a Miami Air charter flight. NAS Jacksonville says there were 136 passengers and 7 crew on the plane, including military and civilian passengers. Connor says Jacksonville was the final destination for some of the passengers, but others planned to continue to other locations. He says they are making arrangements for anyone who didn’t previously have overnight accommodations.
NAS Jacksonville says their emergency response crews were able to work quickly with JFRD to get passengers to shore. Those passengers were held for some time, but have now been released.
“My heartfelt sympathy goes to them [the passengers] in this very difficult time. Not only in the immediate incident, but certainly in the aftermath. There’s going to be a lot of emotion there,” Connor says.
The Jacksonville Transportation Authority mobilized two buses to help transport people as needed.
Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry says crews are working to contain jet fuel in the water, and Connor adds that environmental concerns became a priority as soon as it was confirmed that all passengers were accounted for. Curry further says the White House called to help as the situation unfolded.
NAS Jacksonville says an investigation in to the “mishap” is underway, and will be led by the NTSB, with their cooperation. That investigation will include whether storms in the area at the time had any impact on the landing.