New year’s Eve light plane crash kills 10 Americans in Costa Rica
The plane came down in the Guanacaste, northwest Costa Rica with 13 on board including members of two prominent Jewish-American families- all onboard perished
Costa Rican officials confirmed ten victims to be Americans
New York family of five, Bruce Steinberg, Irene Steinberg, Matthew Steinberg, William Steinberg and Zachary Steinberg were the first victims of crash to be identified
Mitchell, 52, and Leslie Levin Weiss, 50, both of St. Petersburg, Florida, their 19-year-old daughter Hannah Mae
The couple’s 16-year-old son Ari Moses Weiss was also reported dead by several news outlets
Two other Americans, Amanda Rae Geissler, a 33-year-old tour guide from Thorp, Wis., and Gene Wing Szeto died in the crash
Local officials identified plane’s crew as pilot Juan Manuel Retana and co-pilot Emma Ramos, both dead in the crash
The Public Safety Ministry posted video of the crash site showing burning wreckage at the site of a plane crash near Punta Islita, Guanacaste, Costa Rica, on Sunday, December 31, 2017
Two Jewish American families were killed when a plane crashed in Costa Rica on New Year’s Eve. A government statement says there were 10 foreigners and two Costa Rican crew members aboard the plane belonging to Nature Air, which crashed near Punta Islita, Guanacaste, Costa Rica, Sunday, Dec. 31, 20117, after taking off nearby.
Bruce and Irene Steinberg of Scarsdale, New York, and their sons Matthew, 13; William, 18, a student at the University of Pennsylvania; and Zachary, 19, a student at John Hopkins University, were victims of the crash, relatives told reporters.
Three members of the Weiss family from Florida were also perished when the small plane crash in northwest Costa Rica – Mitchell, 52, and Leslie Levin Weiss, 50, both of St. Petersburg, Florida, died alongside their 19-year-old daughter Hannah Mae, when the Cessna 208B Grand Caravan went down, officials report.
The Philadelphia Inquirer also reports that their 16-year-old son Ari Moses Weiss, was killed in the crash.
In all, 10 tourists, all US citizens, and two local crew members died in the crash on Sunday in Guanacaste.
Bruce and Irene Steinberg of Scarsdale, New York, and their sons Matthew, 13; William, 18, a student at the University of Pennsylvania, as well as, Zachary, 19, a student at John Hopkins University, all died when the plane crashed.
A total of 13 have been reported dead by various news sources.
Costa Rica’s government said a plane with 10 Americans, including a family of five, and two local pilots crashed in a wooded area. Local media identified one family as Bruce Steinberg, Irene Steinberg, Matthew Steinberg, William Steinberg and Zachary Steinberg.
Apart from the Steinberg family, from Westchester County, New York, Americans Amanda Rae Geissler, 33, a tour guide from Thorp, Wisconsin and Gene Wing Szeto also died in the crash. The plane’s crew of pilot Juan Manuel Retana, who is the cousin of former Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla, and copilot Emma Ramos, were also among the dead.
Amanda Geisler from Thorp, Wis., was one of the victims of the New Year’s Eve plane crash in Costa Rica
Florida family – Hannah Mae Weiss [left], her parents Leslie Levin Weiss and Mitchell Weiss [center], and brother Ari Moses Weiss [far right] were reported killed in Sunday’s small plane crash in Costa Rica
Mitchell, 52, and Leslie Levin Weiss, 50, their 19-year-old daughter Hannah Mae, were killed in the plane crash in Costa Rica. Ari Moses Weiss, 16, has also been reported as dead after the tragedy
‘It’s a tragic loss,’ said Rabbi Jacob Luski, of the Congregation B’Nai Israel, where the Weiss family attended.
‘I just saw the mom and the daughter last week after Friday evening services,’ Luski said. ‘They will be sorely missed. It’s a real tragedy for their families and the community at large.’
Mitchell Weiss was a radiology specialist in Clearwater, Florida, after studying at medical school in Philadelphia while his wife was a pediatrician who practiced in Tampa. Their daughter Hannah was a student at Columbia University.
Family and friends of the Steinbergs were still in shock about the loss of the family of five. The family had relocated from Philadelphia to St. Petersburg, Florida, about 12 years ago. – It is not clear but it is presumed Ari Weiss was with them when the plane went down on New Year’s Eve.
Pilot Juan Manuel Retana [left], and co-pilot Emma Ramos [right] were among the dead
Among the dead are the pilot of the Cessna Juan Manuel Retana, who is the cousin of former Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla, as was co-pilot, Emma Ramos.
Bruce, who had just turned 50, and his wife Irene Steinberg, and their three sons; Matthew, William and Zachary were all killed, Diario Las Americos reported.
Tamara Jacobson, Bruce’s sister, wrote on Facebook: ‘We are in utter shock and disbelief right now.’
The Steinbergs were very active in their local Jewish community. Scott Richman, Director of American Jewish Committee Westchester said: ‘The entire AJC family mourns the loss of Irene Steinberg and her beautiful family.’
Irene, 51, served on the committee for more than a decade and was joined by her oldest son William who interned at the office last year. She was also involved with the United Jewish Appeal, Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York.
The plane came down in a forest soon after taking off. Smoke rises from the site of the plane crash in Punta Islita, Guanacaste, Costa Rica, Sunday. as the Public Safety Ministry posted video of the crash site showing burning wreckage.
The aircraft whose wreckage can be seen in this photo belonged to Nature Air and crashed in Guanacaste, northwest Costa Rica.
‘She was a devoted leader to Jewish causes,’ Richman added. ‘She was particularly concerned about passing on this love of the Jewish people to the next generation. ‘We are deeply saddened by this immense tragedy.’
Irene and Bruce are also said to have donated thousands of dollars to Seeds of Peace, a U.S.-based organization which focuses on peace-building between young Israelis and Palestinians.
William, a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania, was also involved in Seeds of Peace, and his aunt revealed on Facebook he had been planning a career in politics.
The University of Pennsylvania’s Class Board 2021 shared its condolences on Facebook.
‘We are very shocked and saddened to hear about the death of William Steinberg and his family,’ the message read. ‘We still cannot believe that they died so unexpectedly. Many of us knew Will very closely, he was such a wonderful person who blessed Penn with his amazing smile everyday. Together we mourn the death of a friend, a peer, and a promising scholar who would have went on to change the world.
‘This tragedy hits our community very hard,’ added Rabbi Jonathan Blake of the Westchester Reform Temple in Scarsdale.
At a news conference, Enio Cubillo, director of Costa Rica Civil Aviation, said the Nature Air charter flight took off just after noon Sunday from Punta Islita and was headed for the capital of San Jose when it crashed.
Florida based physician Leslie Levin Weiss of St. Petersburg, was killed in the crash
Ms Weiss’ 19-year-old daughter Hannah Mae Weiss [photo] and her brother Ari also lost their lives along with parents Mitchell and Leslie Levin Weiss
Cubillo said the same plane had arrived in Punta Islita on Sunday morning from San Jose and was delayed in landing by strong winds. The plane had passed a safety inspection about a month ago and was authorized to fly, Cubillo added.
The cause of the crash is still under investigation.
Cubillo also identified the pilot as Retana and described him as very experienced. He said the tourists traveling in the aircraft were staying in a nearby hotel. The co-pilot was Emma Ramos.
Laura Chinchilla, who was president of Costa Rica from 2010 to 2014, said on Twitter that Retana was her cousin.
‘A death has interrupted our family celebration. Our beloved cousin died as part of the crew of the plane that crashed in Guanacaste. Courage to his children and siblings and may he rest in peace,’ she wrote in the tweet.
‘You will stay in our hearts dear #Juanmanuel Retana,’ Chinchilla added.
Officials said the plane was heading to the Juan Santamaria International Airport in Alajuela, Costa Rica, when it crashed around 12.16pm local time.
The plane came down in a forest soon after taking off.Laura Chinchilla, who was president of Costa Rica from 2010 to 2014, said on Twitter that her cousin, Juan Manuel Retana, one of the crew members, had died in the accident [photo, left].
The reason for the crash is unknown. The aircraft, a single-propellor Cessna 208 Caravan, came down in a mountainous area near the Pacific coastal beach town of Punta Islita.
It crashed in the mountainous area of Punta Islita, which is popular with tourists, in the province of Guanacaste, about 140 miles west of the capital of San Jose.
Photos of the crash site, showed flaming wreckage strewn across the terrain.
The private plane, that belonged to Nature Air, was a single-propellor Cessna 208 Caravan officials said.
Nature Air said in a statement that it lamented the accident, without explaining the cause.
The flight was part of a special charter service for 20 people, relying on two planes. The first plane, carrying 10 passengers, arrived safely in San Jose at 11.40am. The second, with 10 passengers and two pilots, departed 20 minutes later.
The reason for the crash is unknown. The aircraft, a single-propellor Cessna 208 Caravan, came down in a mountainous area near the Pacific coastal beach town of Punta Islita on New Year’s Eve.
‘Regrettably this plane crashed a few minutes after taking off,’ Nature Air said.
According to Nature Air’s website, the airline is based in San José.
It is the largest private charter operator in Central America and became the world’s first carbon neutral airline in 2004.