Gold’s Gym owner and 5 others feared dead after plane crash off the coast of Costa Rica
David Goldman by David Goldman
Originally published: Wednesday, September 7, 2014
It would be hard to pick a more bizarre end to a strange journey than that which overtook three people last week on an offshore paradise.
A small blue plane crashed off the coast of Costa Rica around midnight on Tuesday, killing one man and leaving three missing. It was the third accident involving a plane in the area in just over two months. The first two crash sites, one of them outside Los Angeles City, were attributed to pilot error, but Tuesday’s crash remains under investigation.
The plane, a small Cessna 172, had just taken off from Monteverde International Airport — located about 13 miles from Puerto Viejo del Carmen — carrying a group of 20 on a vacation.
But when it reached about 400 or 500 feet off the coast, it spun out of control, hit the water, bounced and crashed into a small reef, killing everyone on board.
“I’m still trying to think what happened, and what went wrong,” said Joe Ponte, the captain of the tour group which had been flying and then took a wrong turn into the jungle. “I don’t know why it happened. The thing is, I don’t even remember thinking that it had turned out of control.”
Ponte says he lost consciousness after the pilot dropped the landing gear near a reef, and was unable to communicate with other passengers.
He says he tried to stay calm, even talking to people on the plane until help arrived. But he says he lost consciousness after the pilots said they were on fire.
“I was trying to get the passengers to leave, but then we all started to panic,” he said. “The passengers were screaming, and I was screaming, too, and said it was my fault the plane fell out of the sky.”
“I’m still trying to figure out what happened, and what went wrong,” he told NBC Nightly News.
The plane had about 10 or 11 passengers on board, including his wife, who was a tour guide, and a couple from Kentucky.
Ponte says the three men, who weren’t named, had