V.I. authorities find nothing after reports of plane crash off Magens prompt search


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ST. THOMAS - After finding no evidence of a downed aircraft, authorities suspended a multi-agency search that began Saturday evening and continued Sunday just north of St. Thomas.

Various agencies received reports between 6 and 7 p.m. Saturday that an aircraft had crashed outside of Magens Bay, near Inner and Outer Brass islands.

"Nothing has been located," said Coast Guard spokesman Ricardo Castrodad. "There are no reports either of an overdue aircraft or a missing aircraft. You usually have loved ones calling in by now."

Castrodad said the Coast Guard suspended its search at about 8 p.m. Sunday evening.

The V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency called for the multi-agency response, though VITEMA spokeswoman Christine Lett could not be reached Sunday to comment on when VITEMA suspended its efforts, and whether it would continue.

She also was unavailable to confirm how many agencies responded and what resources were poured into the effort.

On Saturday, V.I. Fire Service and St. Thomas Rescue personnel were driving around the peninsula between Magens and Hull Bay, though they did not stay for long.

"Last night, we got initial reports that a plane crashed in the Magens Bay area. They saw fire and smoke. We checked with other departments, and they also got calls," said V.I. Fire Service Assistant Director Daryl George on Sunday.

George said that V.I. Fire Service trucks went down to see if they could spot anything, such as the flames and smoke some people had reported, though the firefighters saw nothing.

Blue and red lights were seen on the water after the reports came in Saturday, some of which appeared to be boats on the lookout while others appeared to be helicopters, according to local accounts.

George said that the search continued for about an hour or two, though it was called off until Sunday morning. Little activity could be seen Sunday.

"Usually, with a downed aircraft, they usually have some communication before about an aircraft in distress," Castrodad said.

The V.I. Port Authority reported no such communication, Port Authority spokeswoman Monifa Marrero said Sunday. The Port Authority, however, would not handle the incident either way since it was not at or near the airport, she said.

- Contact Jenny Kane at 714-9102 or email jkane@dailynews.vi.

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