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Search For Two People Missing After Learjet Crash Off Ft. Lauderdale

DANIA BEACH (CBSMiami) – The United States Coast Guard is still searching for two people missing from an air ambulance that crashed in the waters off of Fort Lauderdale on Tuesday evening after dropping off a patient from Costa Rica in Broward County and heading home to Cozumel, Mexico.

The bodies of two others on board the plane were recovered shortly after the crash.

The Coast Guard Cutter Gannot arrived back in Fort Lauderdale on Wednesday loaded with wreckage from the crash of the LearJet 35. Investigators remain optimistic that the other two people on board the plane will be found alive.

"Having done this for a number of years, seeing people survive incredible things at sea in the water for more than 24 hours we are still holding on to hope that we can find these two individuals out there," said Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Ryan Doss.

An NTSB investigator is already on scene trying to piece together the six-minute doomed flight.

"It's rare that we are responding to Learjet accidents," said Brian Rayner with the National Transportation Safety Board, adding that before the crash the plane "Travels out over the water and turn to the north as it climbs to 1800 feet.  The airplane then continues in a northbound direction but begins a descent and it's not until the airplane has descended a thousand feet before it begins its turn to shore.  Shortly after that the last radar target was 400 feet."

Just before 8 o'clock Tuesday night the Learjet took off from Fort Lauderdale and almost immediately reported problems.

TOWER: "You are coming back to Fort Lauderdale."

PILOT: "We have engine failure. We're going to do a 180 and we are going to land."

They never made it.  The Coast Guard, along with state and local authorities began a massive search.

Forty-five minutes into that search they found wreckage and two bodies.

At sunrise they redoubled their efforts.

Gabe Somma is Lt. Cmdr., US Coast Guard. "We are going to use all the daylight to our advantage and hope that we find two survivors."

Unfortunately no one has been found thus far.  The flight bound for Cozumel, Mexico was operated by Air Evac International.

In the cockpit, Jose Hiram Galvan De Lao and Jose Buendia Moreno.

It's not known who was behind the controls.

In the back was nurse Mariana Gonzalez Inzunza and Dr. Fernando Senties, a well known family doctor in Cozumel.

This is Senties at his wedding on MEXICO'S REFORMA.COM.

On his Facebook page condolences are pouring in. One patient wrote quote:

"No God, you cannot take such a good person like Dr. Senties, I pray this news is not true. Rest in peace my dear doctor."

Air Evac International issued a statement today. It said, "The plane had recently been inspected and had no mechanical issues. Family of those on board this fateful flight have been flown here to Fort Lauderdale."

NTSB officials said Learjets in general have a good track record, so they are particularly interested in learning what happened.


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