A single-engine airplane crashed in Haiti Wednesday along a major road on the southern outskirts of the capital, leaving at least seven people dead, including the pilot, who later succumbed to his injuries at a local hospital.
Dr. Jerry Chandler, who heads Haiti’s Office of Civil Protection, said his first responders were on the scene.
The privately owned Cessna 207 was headed to the port city of Jacmel in the southeast when it crashed around 4 p.m. near a police station along the Carrefour Road in Port-au-Prince. The airplane had not too long before taken off from the Port-au-Prince domestic airport, which was about eight miles away. The plane is owned by Richard Hervé Fourcand, a former Haitian senator, and made frequent trips to Jacmel, according to several sources.
Jean Elie Fortune was on a minibus coming from Jacmel, he said, when he and the other passengers saw the aircraft spinning before plunging from the sky. It was unclear how many people may have been on board as well as the total number of dead including casualties on the ground.
“I counted six dead bodies,” Fortune told the Miami Herald.
The flight’s manifest had four passengers and a pilot, according to a source. Chandler said there were conflicting reports about who may or may not have survived the crash and his team was carrying out an investigation. Jude Edouard Pierre, the mayor of Carrefour, said at least three of the dead were passengers onboard the aircraft. Two others were injured and taken to a local hospital along with the pilot, he said, when the airplane hit their vehicle as it came crashing down out of the sky.
After initially surviving the crash, the Dominican pilot, whom Pierre identified as Amado Gutierrez, died of his injuries at a local hospital, several sources confirmed, bringing the death toll to at least seven.
Videos of the crash scene showed that when the aircraft hit the ground the engine was still running, which indicates that it may not have been total engine failure, according to a pilot. Images showed the six-seater broken into pieces, strewn across the roadway.
This is the second fatal airplane crash of a Jacmel-bound aircraft in months.
In July, two American missionaries were among six people killed when their single-engine airplane crashed in the commune of Léogâne in the locality of Mathurin, a section of Beauséjour.
Since last June when armed clashes between warring gangs caused the forced displacement of thousands of Haitians from their homes at the southern entrance of Port-au-Prince, Haitians have had to seek other routes to get to the southern regions of the country. As a result charter aircraft have been in high demand to help take passengers to areas cut off by gangs.
As a result of the increased dependence on private aircraft and the high costs of tickets, residents in the southwestern city of Les Cayes last week took to the streets in a violent protest, which led some demonstrators to tear apart and then burned a plane used by a Florida-based charity.
The eight-seat Piper Navajo Chieftain aircraft belonged to Agape Flights, which is based in Venice, Florida. The destruction led other charter operators to cancel all flights throughout Haiti the following day, and the largest domestic operator to temporarily halt flights to Les Cayes. Planes are operating again.
The spelling of the pilot’s first name is Amado Gutierrez, according to a photo of his ID. A previous version had his name misspelled as Armando.