Broward News

Learjet Crashes Into Ocean Off Fort Lauderdale; Two Confirmed Dead (Audio)

A Mexican-registered Learjet 35, bound for Cozumel with four onboard, crashed into the ocean shortly after taking off from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on Tuesday evening.

Hours after sending a rescue crew to search for the plane, the U.S. Coast Guard confirmed that two bodies -- that of a man and a woman -- had been recovered in the Atlantic Ocean.

Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue crews had been working into the night searching for bodies of two other people also believed to be onboard.

The Learjet, which was believed to be a medical plane, took off from Fort Lauderdale around 7:50 after stopping to refuel.

Shortly after takeoff, the plane's pilot called in a mayday to the tower before the jet disappeared. According to officials, the plane had planned on making the 180-degree turn for an immediate emergency return to the airport.

Shortly after this, the pilot could be heard saying, "Mayday, mayday, mayday." [audio]

The pilot's last communication with the tower was at 8:20 p.m. before radio contact was cut off.

Around 8:45 p.m., two Coast Guard boats, a Coast Guard helicopter, and a Broward Sheriff's helicopter searching the area found the wreckage in the ocean.

Just before 9:30 p.m., the search party recovered the two bodies and brought them back to shore, where a command center was set up at a city marina on SE 15th Street.

According to early reports, the flight had medical personnel aboard, along with two pilots.

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Chris Joseph
Contact: Chris Joseph