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Bill Jones Houston Divers Survive Crash
 © Copyright 2004    Bill Jones    World Rights Reserved

Tropic Air's Cessna CaravanBelize City, Belize.  It’s been a little over a year since eight Houstonians hung-on to the fuselage of a 14-seat Cessna Caravan for 90 minutes during a driving rainstorm after their plane crashed in the Caribbean Sea.  Everyone aboard survived the impact with only minor injuries. 

The Tropic Air flight from Belize City to San Pedro went down 2.5 miles south of Ambergris Caye, a resort island popular with many Bay Area Houston divers.  The Scuba Guy has taken this flight and this particular aircraft more than a dozen times.  A Houston family from the Greenway Plaza Area and couples from Sugar Land and The Woodlands were onboard.

Lance Dreyer, one of the Houston passengers, was en-route with his family to San Pedro for a five-day New Year's vacation.  This was his sixth trip in seven years to Belize to go scuba diving.  Dreyer, a former pilot, said “I became concerned because the pilot was looking out the window.  At night in a rainstorm, you watch your instruments, you don't look out the window”.

At cruising speed, the Cessna impacted the surface of the water.  Dust and smoke filled the cabin as water inside began to rise.  When the plane stopped, the passengers climbed out and on top of the fuselage which was resting on the sandy bottom in six feet of water.   “At that point we knew … the worst thing that's going to happen to us is we'll sit here all night.  We kind-of all laughed about it”, said Dreyer.

One passenger from The Woodlands happened to have a VHF radio and a GPS receiver and he radioed for help with their exact coordinates.  Rescue boats arrived about 30 minutes later and took everyone to San Pedro.

The Dreyers lost most of their money and carry-on items but would later discover that their luggage had failed to make the flight and was still in Belize City.

Tropic Air is a Belizean airline founded in 1979 by a Texas A&M graduate.  The Cessna Caravan is a highly respected aircraft with an excellent safety record.

Editor Note:  Bill Jones, The Scuba Guy, is a PADI Master Instructor and a Published and Award-Winning Writer

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