October 2001 Table of ContentsAALIYAH DIES IN MARSH HARBOUR PLANE CRASH
Singer and actress Aaliyah, 22, was one of two women and seven men who perished on 25th August when the Cessna 402B aeroplane she was travelling in to Opa-Locka, Florida, crashed at the end of the runway at Marsh Harbour International Airport. The charter plane belonging to Blackhawk Airways attempted to take off shortly before 7 pm heading east to west. The plane ended up about 200 feet short of the end of the runway and 100 feet to the south in swampy land. The front of the plane was seriously impacted and the fuselage was ruptured. Spilled fuel caught fire on the starboard side of the plane where several of the victims had been ejected.
Aaliyah Haughton, the niece of R & B singer Gladys Knight, had been on Abaco to film a video. She was a co-star in last year's movie release Romeo Must Die. Aaliyah released her third album, the eponymous Aaliyah, in July of 2001. The singer and her entourage of dancers and cameramen stayed in Treasure Cay.
Investigations as to the cause of the accident have begun. Engine failure is a possibility but most people present at the scene of the accident suggested that the plane was overweight. In addition to the nine passengers there was camera equipment and a large number of suitcases. It is reliably reported that the loading crew for the plane suggested that some equipment be left behind as the aircraft was clearly being overloaded. The pilot, Luis Morales, 30, was also reported to have expressed concern over the amount of baggage being loaded. Estimates on the passengers' total weight (two of the men on board were over 300 lbs) and the equipment carried indicated that the plane was overloaded by at least 700 lbs. People present at the loading site also said that one engine was difficult to start and sounded 'rough'. If engine failure was indeed the cause of the accident, it would have been the left engine that failed as the aeroplane veered left off the runway.
Experienced pilots observing the take off said that the pilot did not start at the beginning of the runway and took off well before the end. It was also disclosed that the pilot might have been flying the plane for the first time and had only been employed by Blackhawk Airways of Fort Lauderdale for two days.
Marsh Harbour Volunteer Fire Department personnel were quickly on the scene and Trauma One assisted in taking the victims to the Marsh Harbour Clinic. Reports suggest that three persons were taken from the wreckage alive but only two men survived long enough to be flown out. One died on the way to Nassau and the other died early next morning at Princess Margaret Hospital. All the bodies were flown to Nassau and claimed by relatives there following autopsies.
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