Twelve people were killed, including ten American passengers, when a small plane crashed in northwest Costa Rica on Sunday afternoon. All twelve victims were identified, but investigators have yet to determine what caused the crash.
Local reports confirmed the American victims’ identities: Gene Szeto; Mitchell, Leslie and Hanna Weiss; and Irene and Bruce Steinberg as well as their children Matthew, William and Zachary. The two Costa Rican passengers, Juan Manuel Retana and Emma Ramos Calderón, were identified as crewmembers.
— Luis Manuel Madrigal (@MadriCR) December 31, 2017
“The government of Costa Rica deeply regrets the death of 10 American passengers and two Costa Rican pilots,” President Luis Guillermo Solis Rivera said in a statement.
The U.S. State Department confirmed that it was aware of the crash as of Sunday evening.
“We express our condolences to all those affected by this tragedy,” a spokesperson told the New York Daily News. “We are in contact with local authorities and are working with them to determine if there were U.S. citizens on board. We will continue to monitor the situation.”
“The protection of U.S. citizens overseas is one of the highest priorities for the State Department. We stand ready to provide all appropriate consular assistance to affected U.S. citizens.”
Costa Rica’s Public Safety Ministry uploaded photos and videos of the crash site that revealed the remnants of the plane – burning wreckage and fiery debris.
According to local sources, the small plane had taken off successfully and was headed to the Juan Santamaria International Airport when the aircraft experienced technical problems. The plane went down in a remote area, hampering rescue crews as they attempted to reach the scene. There were no survivors.