– state of wreckage delays extraction of bodies
By Keeran Danny
The bodies of missing pilot, Blake Slater and cargo loader, Dwayne Jacobs were discovered by Guyana Defence Force troops after 07:00hrs yesterday morning among the wreckage of the Trans Guyana Airways 700 Cessna Caravan 8R-GHS, 5.4 km south-southwest of Olive Creek in the Mazaruni Jungle.
The pilot’s body was found in his seat.
According to the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), the bodies have not been recovered. The extraction process is a meticulous one because of the state of the wreckage and risk of fire.
The team comprising one officer and nine ranks will continue the extraction process today.
Troops, equipped with chainsaws and other necessary cutting tools had to clear virgin forest of tall trees ranging from 75-ft to a 100-ft in the swampy, hilly terrain along the one-mile stretch from where they rappelled in on Saturday to access the wreckage.
They were tasked with clearing a helipad to facilitate the extraction of the bodies. This was done about 100 metres away from the crash site. The soldiers would have to cut the aircraft to remove the bodies.
According to an individual close to the operation, the troops would utilize the helicopter to transport the bodies to Olive Creek, following which they would be transferred to a caravan destined for Georgetown.
The troops are expected to come out of the interior today. They are not responsible for recovering the wrecked plane. The investigators would have to go in and inspect the crash site.
Trans Guyana Airways (TGA) and the GCAA informed the relatives of the deceased early yesterday morning of the discovery and confirmed their worst fears.
In an interview with this publication yesterday, Sean Jacobs related that his brother, Dwayne Jacobs, was employed with TGA for about 10 years and made regular trips in Guyana’s interior. Following the news of Jacobs’ demise, Sean cleared his brother’s locker at TGA and made a comforting discovery.
“I found a prayer sheet in his locker and I am comforted by the fact he had accepted God before his death…At least I know God was with him when the plane was going down…I always tell my brother what my mother tells me; to keep God close and love God because he will protect you and be with you.”
Sean related that since the news of the missing plane and crew on Saturday, it had been a difficult and confusing time for family members who longed to hear “something or anything” about both men. He said in a sense, the worst was known, but everyone was hoping and praying that the outcome would have been positive.
The Jacobs’ surrounded by close friends and a Pastor, were engaged in prayer sessions for the well being of Dwayne and Slater over the weekend.
With pain in his voice Sean said, “It was a hard way to go but die you must…I tell my mother death is a must…Mommy taught us to pray and that is the way to God.” He noted that his mother is not taking the message lightly.
Meanwhile, the parents of Slater do not live in Guyana. He resided with relatives. Slater worked with TGA for about three years. He had been flying in Guyana for quite some time, and completed the requisite minimum of 200 flying hours under supervision before being certified to fly in the interior.
When contacted, Slater’s cousin, Tracy Vieira, was understandably unable to speak to the media.
On behalf of the Board of Directors, Management and Staff of LIAT, acting Chief Executive Officer Mrs. Julie Reifer-Jones expressed deep regret over the death of the two persons.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the captain and his lone passenger who both perished in the crash,” Mrs. Reifer-Jones said.
On Saturday, at approximately 10:56hrs, the Air Traffic Control Tower received a report from another Trans Guyana’s aircraft that the company’s Cessna Caravan 8R-GHS reported going down after takeoff from Olive Creek aerodrome on a shuttle operation between Olive Creek and Imbaimadai.
The body immediately activated the rescue coordination centre at the Air Traffic Control Tower, Timehri. The pilot who reported the aircraft’s distress was only able to hear the latitude coordinates of the airplane. This allowed the authority to plot an approximate position where the plane had crashed.
The airplane’s emergency locator beacon was not triggered and no smoke emanated from the site. As such, the exact location of the plane was unknown on Saturday evening when the search ended for the night.
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