Published On: Mon, Oct 22nd, 2012

Bodies of two missing passengers recovered from downed aircraft on Sunday in USVI

ST THOMAS, USVI - Recovery crews removed the bodies of the two missing passengers from a downed Piper Aztec airplane on Sunday morning after the aircraft, which was located on Saturday afternoon, was raised from the waters near the Cyril E. King Airport in the US Virgin Islands.

The plane, which crashed a little over five miles short of King Airport last week Saturday morning, was located in about 100 feet of water on Saturday afternoon. It was later towed to the waters just north of the King Airport and secured overnight. Around 11:30 pm on Saturday night recovery crews led by the Department of Planning and Natural Resources suspended the effort to remove what was then reported to be the body of one passenger due to lighting limitations and safety concerns. The effort resumed at sunrise on Sunday and, once a crane lifted the wreckage, it became apparent that there were two bodies inside the aircraft.

In meticulous fashion, dive crews strapped the aircraft and it was lifted from the waters onto a platform truck on the northwestern end of King Airport. Staff from the Medical Examiner’s Office, VIPD Forensics Unit and DPNR enforcement officers removed the bodies of both a male and female passenger.

The missing passengers were Darwin Carr and Rachel Hamilton. There were no signs of the missing pilot, Kirby Hodge. Late Sunday morning, government officials notified the families of Rachel Hamilton and Darwin Carr that the aircraft had been found, that the two bodies had been recovered and that in all likelihood, the bodies were those of Hamilton and Carr. An autopsy scheduled for early this week will confirm the identities and determine the cause of death.

Both the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board have been notified that the aircraft was located. Federal officials are expected on island shortly to begin the process of determining the cause of the October 13 crash.

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