SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (CBSNewYork/AP) — Costa Rican investigators are looking into what caused a charter aircraft to crash in woods soon after takeoff, killing two crewmembers and 10 U.S. citizens, including families from New York and Florida.
Scarsdale residents Bruce and Irene Steinberg and their sons William, Zachary and Matthew were among those killed.
“We are in utter shock and disbelief right now,” Bruce Steinberg’s sister, Tamara Steinberg Jacobson, wrote on Facebook.
“It’s hard to process,” said next-door neighbor and friend Lisa Flicker. “It just doesn’t feel real.”
Family nanny Olga Villatoro didn’t know that when she said goodbye to the family, it would be for the last time.
“I say bye bye, good luck, hugs, I’ll see you next year,” she said.
She spent the first day of 2018 sobbing in front of the family’s Scarsdale home.
“He say there was an accident on the airplane, and he say it’s not here, and I say who? Mrs. Irene, Mr. Bruce? Everybody, the kids too he say. I say, what? I don’t understand. Now I still don’t understand, is it real or no?” she said.
It’s a reality Tamara Steinberg Jacobson is also trying to understand, she had just seen her older brother Bruce and his family a few days ago to celebrate his 50th birthday in Miami.
“We had wonderful days and nights together. We were together as a whole family, and on Monday he was flying out to meet a tour, going to Costa Rica with a bike company, and that’s the last time I saw him,” she said.
Rabbi Jonathan Blake of the Westchester Reform Temple in Scarsdale said in a statement posted on the temple’s Facebook page and emailed to The Associated Press that the Steinbergs were involved in philanthropy and local Jewish groups.
“This tragedy hits our community very hard,” Blake wrote.
In St. Petersburg, Florida, Rabbi Jacob Luski of Congregation B’nai Israel said on Monday that relatives had informed him of the deaths of Mitchell and Leslie Weiss and their two children, 19-year-old Hannah and 16-year-old Ari.
“They were a wonderful family who will be missed,” he said.
Luski said both of the parents were doctors. The family lived in Belleair, along the Gulf of Mexico.
The Costa Rican government released video of the wreckage still in flames.
At a news conference, Enio Cubillo, director of Costa Rica Civil Aviation, said the Nature Air charter flight crashed shortly after taking off just after noon Sunday from Punta Islita on a planned flight to the capital of San Jose. He said investigators were looking into possible causes.
Cubillo identified the pilot as Juan Manuel Retana and described him as very experienced. Former Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla said via Twitter that Retana was her cousin.
The same plane had arrived in Punta Islita on Sunday morning from San Jose and was delayed in landing by strong winds, Cubillo said.
Nature Air did not respond to phone and email messages.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)