The plane that crashed in Costa Rica, killing at least 10 Americans, had barely left the ground, an eyewitness said.
“The plane was super low and then all of a sudden [it] veered to the left and crashed into the ground of the mountain sideways, wing first,” Dawn Wolf told NBC.
Wolf, who was eating at a restaurant near the airport, said the plane was in the air for less than a minute.
Just 20 seconds after the plane crashed she heard an explosion. The plane “was broken into two,” she said.
Photos from later in the day showed the plane incinerated, with only the tail still intact.
No one survived when the single-engine Cessna smashed into a mountain while en route to San Jose, Costa Rica’s capital, from the northwestern Guancaste region of the Central American country.
All of the 10 passengers on board were American, including the Steinbergs—a family of five who were living in Westchester, New York.
Bruce and Irene Steinberg, along with their sons Matthew, 13, William, 18, and Zachary, 19, were enjoying a vacation in the country.
“Their children would have changed the world,” family friend Robin Shainberg told the New York Post. “They were just the most lovely family—the most giving, caring, wonderful friends to have.”
Bruce was a graduate of Columbia University while his eldest son was attending the University of Pennsylvania. William was attending Scarsdale High School, according to his Facebook page. Irene was from Potomac, Maryland.
In a Facebook post, Tamara Steinberg Jacobson, wrote that the family was in shock over the abrupt loss.
“We are in utter shock and disbelief right now,” she said.
Nature Air, the Costa Rican company that operated the flight, identified the five Steinbergs and five other passengers: Thibault Astruc, Amanda Geissler, Charles Palmer, Leslie Weiss, and Sherry Wuu, Reuters reported.
The State Department later confirmed all were U.S. citizens. The two Costa Rican pilots also died in the crash.
La fatalidad se interpone en las celebraciones de familia. Nuestro querido primo fallece como parte de la tripulación de la avioneta siniestrada en Guanacaste. Fuerza a sus hijos y hermanos y paz a sus restos.
Permanecerás en nuestro corazón querido #JuanManuelRetana
— Laura Chinchilla M. (@Laura_Ch) December 31, 2017
Head pilot Juan Manuel Retena was a cousin of former Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla.
Chinchilla said on Twitter that he would remain “in our hearts.”