Boeing 737 Crash Lands Into River In Florida

A Boeing 737 arriving in Florida from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has slid from the runway during a storm, coming to a halt in the St. Johns River.

A Miami Air Boeing 737 has skidded into a Florida river.
A Miami Air Boeing 737 has skidded into a Florida river. Image: A Miami Air jet. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Passengers safely accounted for as plane lands in shallow water

The plane came to a rest in shallow water and with no apparent injuries according to CNN. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office confirmed the plane was “not submerged” and that all passengers were safe.

A Jacksonville Naval Air Station spokesperson, where the plane was landing, put the incident at 9.40pm ET on Friday. The plane was traveling from the US Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The station declared at the time:

“Navy security and emergency response personnel are on the scene and monitoring the situation.”

Former Federal Aviation Administration inspector David Soucie responded to the incident:

“The fact that they were all brought out of the aircraft safely and no one was hurt says a lot about how the crew reacted to this situation.”

Jacksonville Mayor Curry had also asked for prayers while fire and rescue crews attending the scene worked.

Safe landing a “miracle”

The Boston Globe reports the plane was carrying 143 from the US military base and was attempting to land during a thunderstorm. Its reporting revealed passengers climbed onto the wings to be rescued “without critical injuries.” The Jacksonville Naval Air Station commanding officer Captain Michael Connor called the outcome a “miracle” adding that they “could be talking about a different story.”

The Washington Post today, citing the local fire department, says 21 passengers were taken to local hospitals. And, that the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue division had conducted training on Friday with its special operations and marine units in preparation for just such an incident.

Pets still to be rescued

The Boeing 737 had 136 civilian and military passengers onboard plus seven crew and a number of pets. A statement this morning revealed that safety issues were preventing rescuers from getting to the animals. The latest update from Action News Jax reporter Brittney Donovan says rescuers may be unable to reach the pets until the plane is retrieved from the water. More investigators from the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) were expected to arrive at noon today, with one investigator already onsite.

Boeing extends wishes to all involved

Boeing issued a statement today extending “well wishes to all those involved” saying that the Boeing 737-800 charter flight “skidded” off the runway. The flight was operated by Miami Air International. The plane, according to the Washington Post, first flew in 2001 and is the older of six in the airline’s fleet. The same plane also became stuck in mud on a charter flight for NASCAR drivers in 2012, on take-off from Concord, NC. But, suffered no major damage at the time. Also, according to the Washington Post, citing the Weather Network, there was lightning in the area and heavy rain on the runway yesterday in Florida.

The investigation into the incident is ongoing. Boeing states that it is providing “technical assistance” under the direction of the NTSB as it investigates. And, that as per protocol inquiries are to be directed to the NTSB.

Boeing is currently working to return its 737 MAX to service after all of the planes were grounded following the Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX disaster in March 2019.