Plane carrying 143 slides off runway into river in Jacksonville. No one killed, sheriff says

A private charter airplane carrying 136 passengers and seven crew members skidded off the end of the runway at Naval Air Station in Jacksonville Friday night and into the St. Johns River, but no one was killed.

“Every person is alive and accounted for,” the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said in a tweet. The plane was in shallow water and did not become submerged.

Naval Air Station Jacksonville issued a statement Friday night stating that the plane, a Boeing 737 arriving from Naval Station Guantánamo Bay in Cuba, had slid off the runway into the St. Johns River about 9:40 p.m.

An investigation into the “mishap” is underway, NAS Jacksonville said.

“Minor injuries have been reported, treated at the scene, and those requiring additional treatment were transported to a local hospital,” the air base added in a statement.

The plane was reportedly operated by the Department of Defense, according to ABC News.

“Navy security and emergency response personnel are on the scene and monitoring the situation,” NAS Jacksonville said in the statement.

A Jacksonville Fire Rescue spokesman told reporters that 21 people were transported from the scene and taken to local hospitals in good condition.

Defense attorney Cheryl Bormann, described as a 9/11 trial lawyer in a 2018 McClatchy article, told CNN that there were military personnel and civilians connected to the military in some way on board. Bormann said there were families with young children on the plane.

She said the flight hit bad weather, and that the plane’s air conditioning had malfunctioned. She described a bouncy landing.

“It felt like the plane was kind of veering sideways in a way,” she told CNN’s Don Lemon. “All of a sudden it just smashed into something.”

The plane is owned by Miami Air International, which operates charter flights from Guantánamo to Naval air stations in Jacksonville and Norfolk, Virginia. The flights typically carry members of the military being rotated on or off assignments on the base, family members and VIPs.

As of Saturday morning, Miami Air International, which has its corporate office on Northwest 36th Street, has not responded to the Miami Herald’s request for comment.

Boeing posted on Twitter Friday night that it was monitoring the incident.

“We are aware of an incident in Jacksonville, Fla. and are gathering information,” the post said.

Boeing released a statement early Saturday morning on Twitter to reiterate what happened Friday night, said it is offering “technical assistance” to the U.S. National Transportation and Safety Board, and is cooperating with the NTSB’s investigation.

Though the plane that skidded in Jacksonville is a Boeing 737, it is not a Boeing 737 MAX 8, the kind involved in two recent crashes that led President Donald Trump to order a grounding of 737 MAX planes and a Department of Justice investigation.

In a series of posts to Twitter, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said authorities were working to control jet fuel that had leaked into the water and that his office received a call from the White House.

“All alive and accounted for,” he said in one post. “Our Fire and Rescue teams are family to all.”

Miami Herald Real Time/Breaking News reporter Howard Cohen, a 2017 Media Excellence Awards winner, has covered pop music, theater, health and fitness, obituaries, municipal government and general assignment. He started his career in the Features department at the Miami Herald in 1991.
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