Early Saturday morning, at 4:39am, a small plane left St. Croix on it’s way to St. Thomas for a routine newspaper delivery run. There were four people aboard the Piper Aztec. People on St. Thomas who were waiting for the flight became concerned as it became more and more overdue and emergency services were notified at 7:44am.
The Coast Guard, Natural and Planning Resources, the Port Authority, Sea Tow and the VI Territorial Emergency Management Agency began a search of the waters and at 1:45pm they made visual contact with a woman in the ocean; Valerie Jackson Thompson, one of the passengers on the plane, was rescued after managing to stay afloat in the ocean for almost nine hours. Incredible. She was able to provide information on the other passengers.
The Coast Guard and local search teams continued searching throughout the weekend with the Coast Guard working both day and night for any sign of plane and passengers. Last night the search was suspended.
For more information please click here.
Our thoughts and prayers to the families and friends of pilot Kirby Hodge, passenger Rachel Hamilton and passenger Darwin Carr.