NORTH ANDROS, Bahamas — Prime Minister, Dr. the Hon. Hubert A. Minnis and a delegation from New Providence traveled to North Andros Friday (January 19, 2018) to meet with the families of the six Androsians reported to have been onboard the twin-engine Piper Aztec aircraft that crashed into water off North Andros.
Prime Minister Minnis and his delegation arrived at the North Andros (San Andros) Airport where they were met by senior government and local government officials before being whisked away to the Government Administration Complex where the meeting took place.
The Prime Minister’s delegation included Minister of Transport and Local Government and Acting Aviation Minister, the Hon. Frankie Campbell, Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources, the Hon. Renward Wells, Bishop Delton Fernander, President of the Bahamas Christian Council and Mr. Jack Thompson, Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister
Prime Minister Minnis’ first effort was to console the family members and representatives of the six Androsians.
“To the family and Andros at-large I came here to bring condolences not only on my behalf but the Cabinet and the entire Commonwealth of The Bahamas,” Prime Minister Minnis said.
“This is indeed a sad moment and a tragedy for Andros as we are a large land mass but a small community and I note that when one looks at the victims of this tragedy, it involved mother and daughter and many of the victims would have left behind siblings family members and they too will need our support.
“The question is always asked why would such an event occur? Why me? Why us? And why a 10-year-old at this time when they would not have yet begun their life? But what we do know for certain is that whatever happens in this world, one man knows why and that’s God,” the Prime Minister added.
Prime Minister Minnis said Administration Officials will dispatch grief counselors to the island early next week to provide counseling services for those in need of it.
“I know that in times of bereavement it not only affects you but the extended family, it affects the community, the children and it also affects the school where that ten-year-old and the children of the victims would have schooled.
“Recognizing that, we will have counselors here in your community as early as next week to be available both for family members and the school communities. Again on behalf of the Government of The Bahamas I bring condolences and as soon as I return from my trip next week I will be here with you again and I assure you that the Government of The Bahamas will offer our entire support to ensure that you get through this so remain firm, remain steady and let us all continue to pray and ask for God’s Blessing or the entire nation of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas,” Prime Minister Minnis added.
Meanwhile, the Air Accident Investigation Department of The Bahamas Friday released a statement. Below is the full text of that statement:
“On 17 January, 2018 the Air Accident Investigation Department (AAID) was notified by Nassau Air Traffic Control that an aircraft N62769, a Piper Aztec, six-seater aircraft went missing around 8:00am while en route to the Lynden Pindling International Airport from San Andros Airport.
Search and Rescue assets with assistance from the Royal Bahamas Defense Force, the United States Coast Guard and BASRA, as well as other aircraft from Nassau and local boaters in Andros, participated in the search for the missing aircraft and its occupants.
Around 5:00pm, the AAID was notified that a debris field was located where the aircraft crashed. Due to nightfall search and rescue efforts had to be suspended and commenced around 7am Thursday January 18.
On Thursday 18 January, Investigators from the AAID with assistance from the Bahamas Civil Aviation Authority, Safety Oversight Department traveled to Andros Island to commence the investigation.
Around 10:00am, the investigation team was notified that the debris field was located and what remained of the aircraft was retrieved and brought to the island. As the complete aircraft could not be located and retrieved, no further analysis can be conducted on the aircraft. Subsequently the search and rescue efforts were officially terminated. The pilot and five passengers on board perished in the accident, which occurred in waters approximately four (4) miles southeast of the Mastic Point Settlement.
The AAID is actively investigating this accident and further information can be obtained by contacting the Chief Investigator of Air Accidents Mr. Delvin Major at 242-397-5513 or 242-397-5509.
By Matt Maura
Bahamas Information Services