First responders from multiple local and state agencies fight the fires caused by the crash of a C-130 Hercules cargo plane from Puerto Rico Air National Guard. The plane crashed near the intersection of Ga. 21 and Crossgate Road in Savannah, Ga. (Will Peebles/Savannah Morning News via AP)

60-year-old cargo plane that crashed in Georgia was on final trip

The C-130 cargo plane crashed in Savannah, Ga. on May 2.

An aging C-130 Hercules that rescued and resupplied U.S. citizens after last year’s hurricanes crashed onto a highway in Georgia during what was supposed to be its final flight, killing all nine Puerto Ricans on board.

After more than 60 years of government service, the huge plane was being flown into retirement in Arizona, reducing Puerto Rico’s National Guard fleet to five similar planes, two of which need maintenance and aren’t being used, Adjutant General Isabelo Rivera said.

“The planes that we have in Puerto Rico — it’s not news today that they are the oldest planes on inventory” among all National Guard planes nationwide, and they often face delays in getting spare parts shipped to the island, he said.

It’s too early to say what might have caused the plane to drop out of the sky onto Georgia’s Highway 21 moments after taking off from Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport. Rivera said the plane last received maintenance at the military base in Savannah in April.

All nine crew members had helped with hurricane recovery efforts as part of the 198th Fighter Squadron, nicknamed the Bucaneros, which flies out of Base Muniz in the northern coastal city of Carolina, Rivera said. The squadron used the plane to rescue Americans from the British Virgin Islands after Hurricane Irma, and later supplied food and water to Puerto Ricans desperate for help after Hurricane Maria.

“The National Guard is an extended family,” Rivera said as doctors, psychologists and chaplains gathered to meet with the victims’ relatives.

The huge plane came down so hard that the only part still intact was its tail section, said Chris Hanks, a spokesman for the Savannah Professional Firefighters Association. The fuselage appeared to have struck the median, and pieces of its wings, which spanned 132 feet (40 metres), were scattered across lanes in both directions.

Related: Plane ‘too heavy:’ Plane crash victims file class-action lawsuit

The debris field stretched 600 feet (183 metres) in diameter, Effingham County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Gena Bilbo said.

“It miraculously did not hit any cars, any homes,” she said. Eight hours after the crash, she confirmed that “To our knowledge there are no survivors.”

Motorist Mark Jones told the Savannah Morning News that he saw the plane hit the road right in front of him, and explode in a huge fireball.

“It didn’t look like it nosedived, but it almost looked like it stalled and just went almost flat right there in the middle of the highway,” Jones said.

“I’m still shook up and shaking. My stomach is in knots because I know they’re people just like me. I wasn’t that far from it and I could have just kept going and it would have been me and we wouldn’t be talking right now,” Jones said.

The U.S. territory’s Gov. Ricardo Rossello expressed his sadness, tweeting that “our prayers are with the families of the Puerto Rican crew.”

President Donald Trump tweeted that he had been briefed on the crash, and sent “thoughts and prayers for the victims, their families and the great men and women of the National Guard.”

Related: Pilot likely affected by ‘spatial disorientation’ in plane crash that killed former Alberta Premier Jim Prentice

___

Coto reported from San Juan, Puerto Rico. Associated Press writer Jeff Martin in Atlanta contributed to this report.

Russ Bynum And Danica Coto, The Associated Press

 

Smoke rises in the distant where an Air National Guard C-130 cargo plane crashed near an in Savannah, Ga., Wednesday, May 2, 2018, in this view from Poolers, Ga. (Minh Phan via AP)

Just Posted

Fraser Valley Bandits reveal mascot name

Berry the Bandit officially unveiled, makes first public appearance tomorrow

End ‘exploitative’ parking fees at Lower Mainland hospitals, group says

HospitalPayParking.ca is criticizing a new contract between health authorities and Impark

UFV celebrates 2019 HOF class

Third annual Cascades Hall of Fame event occurs on Friday night

Your daily commute and weather forecast: Jan. 22, 2019

A bit of rain over the next couple days, then into another sunny stretch. Plenty of congestion today.

Abbotsford Hospice Society’s Butterfly Ball receives $15,000 donation

Funds for event in April come from group of advisors with The Co-operators

New Canada Food Guide nixes portion sizes, promotes plant-based proteins

Guide no longer lists milk and dairy products as a distinct food group

Canadian talent abound on newly revamped Vancouver Whitecaps squad

Lineup is full of new faces after the organization parted ways with 18 players over the off-season

Man accused of threatening to kill ‘as many girls as I see’

Christopher W. Cleary wrote he was angry because he’d never had a girlfriend and wanted to ‘make it right’ with a mass shooting

Cannabis-carrying border crossers could be hit with fines under coming system

Penalties are slated to be in place some time next year

B.C. Green leader calls for long-term legislature financial audit

Andrew Weaver says trust in clerk and sergeant at arms is gone

No charges in fatal police Taser incident in Chilliwack

RCMP watchdog concludes no evidence of excessive or disproportionate force was used by officers

Here’s what the B.C. legislature officers are accused of buying with tax payers’ money

Personal trips, purchases, alcohol and more laid out in 76-page report by Plecas

Alberta youth charged over theft of $17,000 in snow equipment at B.C. ski resort

Alberta RCMP recovered $17,000 in skis/snowboards believed stolen from Fernie Alpine Resort Saturday

China demands U.S. drop Huawei extradition request with Canada

Hua said China demands that the U.S. withdraw the arrest warrant against Meng Wanzhou

Most Read