A plane carrying 143 people slid off the runway at Naval Air Station Jacksonville and into the nearby St. John’s River on Friday night, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Department said. The Boeing 737 was not submerged in water and everyone on the plane was accounted for, police said.
The plane came to stop in a shallow part of the St. John’s River. Within 30 minutes, dozens of military and civilian rescuers were on the scene, some making their way to the plane by boat. The commanding officer of NAS Jacksonville, Capt. Michael Connor, called it “a miracle.”
Jacksonville Fire and Rescue said 21 people were transported from the scene to area hospitals. The sheriff’s department said in a tweet that all were listed in good condition.
The Federal Aviation Administration said the plane was not a commercial flight but a Defense Department contract flight from Guantanamo Bay. The Naval Station Guantanamo Bay posted on Facebook that the “Rotator,” the twice-weekly charter flight that brings military personnel, contractors and family members off that base, experienced a crash landing at NAS Jacksonville.
Naval Air Station Jacksonville said there were 136 passengers and seven crew members on board.
Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry tweeted that teams were working to control jet fuel leaking into the water.
There was no immediate word on what caused the plane to end up in the river. There was stormy weather in the area at the time. The National Transportation Safety Board said it will send a team to investigate.