Body camera footage shows emergency response after plane hits St. Johns
Video from FWC reveals scene after plane skids off NAS Jacksonville runway
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Body camera footage shows the response from emergency crews after a Miami Air 737 jet skidded off a Naval Air Station Jacksonville runway and into the St. Johns River.
Federal investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board said the plane skidded off the runway around 9:40 p.m. on May 3 as the pilot tried to land in bad weather.
A total of 143 people were on board and nearly two dozen suffered minor injuries. Two pets that were in the cargo hold died.
News4Jax obtained video from body cameras worn by two Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers involved in the response. One video shows an officer arriving on the runway around 10:59 p.m.
The video shows dozens of emergency teams from the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department, the First Coast Navy Fire and Emergency Services and the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.
It also provides a glimpse of a heavy rescue truck stationed on NAS Jacksonville near the runway, operated by Navy firefighters, one of the first vehicles on the scene after the crash.
The footage shows the commanding officer for NAS Jacksonville, Capt. Michael P. Connor, and the base’s fire chief, Mark Brusoe.
“Wow,” remarked an FWC officer as he got closer to the plane and talked to a fellow officer.
“So everyone is accounted for and all the animals are off board?” one officer asked.
“I don’t know about the animals,” his colleague replied. “I know everyone’s off of it. Nobody was hurt.”
JFRD’s marine units were shuttling rescuers on and off the wings of the plane, using lights to help with visibility.
FWC was asked to hold the perimeter in the waters around the base. They called in extra officers and boats to patrol the St. Johns River.
In a second video from an officer on a boat, the body camera records an exchange with onlookers in a boat.
“Hey folks we need you to back up to the other side of the river, OK?” the officer warned, before picking up in intensity. “Go! You’re gone! OK? Go! Go!”
The boaters remarked that they were curious and wanted to see the plane wreckage in person.
“This is why they need us out here because everybody on that side of the river that’s watching the news is gonna get on their boats and come over here,” one FWC officer told another.
The NTSB soon took over the investigation. Officials said it would likely take 18 months to come to a full conclusion on what went wrong.
News4Jax aviation expert Ed Booth has about 3,700 hours of flight experience and has served on the board of directors for the Jacksonville Aviation Authority. He took a close look at the body cam footage from first responders.
"(A) massive response by first responders. Just unprecedented," Booth said. "I mean, it's really something Jacksonville should be proud of, and I don't think (they've) received enough recognition."
Booth believes the response reflects years of training and cooperation between agencies.
"A Friday evening in the middle of a raging thunderstorm, airplane in the most difficult situation, in the river, and you have Marine units and ground units all right there within minutes, and it's improbable if you look back at it but it's really something," Booth said.
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