by Kevon Browne
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): The flight that made an emergency water landing at about 11 a.m. on January 3, off Salt Cay, a small island southeast of Grand Turk, experienced mechanical failure, according to Turks and Caicos Governor Nigel Dakin in an Instagram post.
The aircraft departed from the RLB International Airport for the Turks and Caicos Islands with four passengers who were rescued by fishermen and taken to Grand Turks for medical attention. Three of the persons rescued are nationals of St. Kitts and Nevis, and the fourth is from Costa Rica.
The pilot had reported difficulties South East of Grand Turk.
Dakin said, “I spoke to the pilot after the rescue. A failure of the fuel pump to the reserve fuel tank caused the problem.”
The governor explained that the aircraft was brought down to a lower altitude; when the engine failed, the aircraft was brought down under control into the ocean about 13 miles South-East of Grand Turk.
“A raft was deployed, but the sea swell quickly took it away. The crew and passengers were, therefore, in the sea, clad in their life jackets, throughout the time of the search. While they could see the coastguard helicopters, there was never a direct overflight of them,” Governor Dakin wrote.
The four individuals were at sea from the time of the emergency landing until about 3:30 pm, some four and a half hours, until they were rescued by ‘Deep Blue Charters’ captained by Kellison Talbot, assisted by Anthony Forbes and Jervis Simmons.
In a Facebook post, Premier Of The Turks & Caicos Islands Charles Washington Misick expressed his gratitude to Talbot, writing, “I pay homage to their bravery and unselfishness as they were instrumental in saving lives so early in this new year. Their actions are commendable, and on behalf of my government and I, I pay tribute to their fearlessness and as good ambassadors of our nation.”
In a video on the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force Facebook page, officials expressed their gratitude and commendations to Talbot for saving the passengers.
St. Kitts and Nevis Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Rt Hon. Dr Denzil Llewellyn Douglas, on Facebook, wrote, “Gratitude is a Must!!!” while sharing the video of Talbot being thanked by law enforcement for rescuing the passengers.
Governor Dakin said the four rescued were incredibly grateful to the local crew who saved them and for the hospitality received at Grand Turk. The four individuals were released from the hospital within hours. They were provided hotel accommodation, fresh clothing and toiletries by the Turks and Caicos Islands Ministry of Tourism, government officials and the TCI Red Cross.