By Associated Press
ANAHUAC, Texas — Authorities scoured the shallow waters of a southeast Texas bay Monday for clues about what led to the sudden crash of a Boeing 767 cargo plane carrying Amazon packages, and for the body of one of the three people aboard.
A north wind has aided searchers by exposing more of the three-quarter-mile debris field left Saturday when Houston-bound Flight 3591, which Atlas was operating for Amazon, disintegrated on impact with Trinity Bay, about 35 miles east of the city, an area sheriff said Sunday night. But the National Transportation Safety Board said on Twitter that it would not be releasing more information on the search Monday.
White chunks of fuselage could still be seen Monday sticking out of the bay’s long grass as airboats skimmed the low water around the crash site.
None of the three people on the jumbo jet survived the crash, according to authorities and the plane’s owner, Atlas Air. On Sunday, emergency workers recovered two bodies from the costal bay, which were sent to a medical examiner’s office for autopsies.
Sheriff’s deputies and investigators from the FBI and NTSB are searching for the remaining body and the plane’s black box, which records flight data and voices in the cockpit. Crews are searching the area with boats and helicopters, but the muddy landscape has made the process “painstaking,” NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwal said Sunday.
The only person aboard the flight from Miami to be officially identified was a pilot for another airline who had been riding in a passenger seat on the cargo plane.
Mesa Airlines Capt. Sean Archuleta had been getting a lift back to his home in the Houston area, his friend told the Houston Chronicle . The 36-year-old was a new father and weeks away from starting his “dream” job flying for United Airlines, Don Dalton, Archuleta’s roommate, told the paper.
Chambers County Sheriff Brian Hawthorne confirmed Monday the identities of Archuleta and First Officer Conrad Aska, the 44-year-old co-pilot whose body was found Saturday.
Archuleta’s wife lives in Colombia and was “devastated” by the news of his death, Dalton said.
Atlas Air said in a Sunday statement that it has established a program to support the families of the dead and that it has a team, including CEO Bill Flynn, at the crash site to assist investigators.
Before Saturday, the most recent crash involving a large cargo plane in the United States was in 2016, according to a Federal Aviation Administration spokesman.
The non-fatal incident began when the landing gear of a FedEx flight collapsed soon after it touched down on a runway at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. The left wing of the McDonnell Douglas MD-10-10F caught fire and the plane was badly damaged in the crash, but the two crew members were able to evacuate, the spokesman said.