0

Pm Orders Rescue Operations Review

On Thursday, volunteers organised by Gina Knowles took only 40 minutes to find parts of the plane that was being flown by missing pilot Byron Ferguson. Photo: Shawn Hanna/Tribune staff

On Thursday, volunteers organised by Gina Knowles took only 40 minutes to find parts of the plane that was being flown by missing pilot Byron Ferguson. Photo: Shawn Hanna/Tribune staff

photo

Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis.

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

PRIME Minister Dr Hubert Minnis said last night that he has ordered a full review of protocols, procedures and agencies involved in air accident response and investigations in the country – “including any systemic or structural problems” –following the Byron Ferguson case that has transfixed the nation.

His statement came as Royal Bahamas Defence Force officers continued their search yesterday for Mr Ferguson and debris from his Piper Aztec plane, with officers recovering small parts of the aircraft over the weekend along with some cargo.

The incident and its aftermath has prompted wide discussion and has even had political ramifications, with nearly 6,000 people up to press time signing an online petition calling for the resignation of National Security Minister Marvin Dames.

Mr Dames had defended law enforcement’s response to the event last week and incorrectly said the pilot had no flight plan.

Yesterday, Dr Minnis said the report he has ordered will be shared with the public and its findings will lead to changes if necessary.

He said he will not comment on the matter until he has received a full report from the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation, the Royal Bahamas Defence Force and other relevant authorities.

photo

Byron Ferguson

The prime minister’s statement followed comments from Attorney General Carl Bethel who argued in the Senate last week that the response to the plane crash shows the RBDF is not sensitized to accident disaster recovery.

Facing withering criticism, some defence force officers have passionately emphasized their commonalities with other Bahamians.

In one such example, a post shared more than 400 times and liked more than 900 times on Facebook, Leathone Hanna, an RBDF diver, wrote: “I said I wasn’t going to speak out but hey…I am a diver of the RBDF that went out days searching for Mr Ferguson in all kind of bad weather. I didn’t do it because it’s part of my duty but because I know what his family is going through. I feel it because this brings back so many painful memories of when my family, my friends and myself searched and dived up my own brother’s body out of a canal.

“We as divers are making great sacrifices for our country,” he continued.

“We leave our kids and loved ones at home knowing that we are about to place one foot in death’s door. We bleed just as all Bahamians bleed. We depend on the same air as all Bahamians. We are humans too. So before bashing us know that there are marines that are making the ultimate sacrifice. It has to count for something.”

Authorities’ response to the plane crash has been subject to intense scrutiny in the last week, especially after divers associated with Head Knowles, a community support group, recovered substantial parts of the Piper Aztec plane on Thursday.

At a press conference on Friday, officers were pressed on why civilian divers recovered substantial parts of the plane and not them, even though they spotted the plane on the night of November 8th. Their response – that they were focused on finding life – drew scrutiny.

Keith Major Jr, the first Bahamian to obtain a Masters of Law degree in international aviation, said the lack of quick recovery of the aircraft’s wreckage goes against international norms and expectations.

“…A key and consequential issue which arises out of the untimely retrieval of airplane wreckage is evidentiary in nature,” he wrote in a statement posted on Facebook, “and is referred to as spoliation of evidence. [Spoilage] of evidence in the aviation context extends to the loss, destruction, material alteration of or the failure to preserve a writing, record or physical object. Courts when applying this doctrine have had regard to the negligent failure to preserve evidence, even though deemed as unintentional conduct.”

This was not the first time civilians found major parts of a downed plane––it happened in January following a deadly plane crash off the coast of Andros. A key difference this time, however, has been the public cries of Byron Ferguson’s family.

His brothers – a lawyer, a doctor and an accountant – articulated in an emotional November 12th press conference all the ways they believe authorities failed their brother, citing lack of lights on nearby Family Island airport runways and an initial search and rescue effort they characterised as superficial and short.

In the days since, the incident has come to crystalise what some Bahamians believe is a government system that cannot be trusted to deliver quality services.

“It is a known fact that every governmental sector, the community, and the society of the Bahamas have failed,” wrote Captain Philip Armbrister in a statement that has been widely shared on Facebook.

“It has been verified, broadcasted and publicised daily in the news. This has affected the telephone company, water and sewage, teachers union, air traffic control, customs, immigration, doctors, pilots, and every law enforcement agency. As a result of this, the entire country is on strike, everyone is marching but there are no solutions to having anything resolved. In the past week due to an aircraft incident, we’re unable to locate our brother, Captain Byron Ferguson who left Palm Beach airport, and shortly thereafter he encountered mechanical issues with his aircraft. After continuously calling for assistance the aircraft crashed landed approximately two miles away from Nirvana Beach just short of Nassau and upon arrival there were no emergency response team waiting. Yes, I said it, no help.”

Divers are now concentrating their search in the general area east of where the tail of the plane was last spotted. The RBDF, working with civilian volunteers and the Royal Bahamas Police Force, has extended their search to the Andros and Berry Island areas, officials said.

Search efforts took place yesterday but not on Saturday because of bad weather, according to Lieutenant Commander Dereck Ferguson, the officer responsible for diving operations.

Asked how long their search will continue, Commander Shonedel Pinder, the officer in charge of the RBDF’s air division, told the press: “We will continue in earnest until the information and evidence gathered has come to a point where there is nothing else that can be gathered and or there are suggestions and or directives indicating we ought to do otherwise.

“Given the level of scrutiny this case has and continues to get certainly our efforts are focused toward ensuring our efforts are comprehensive and we seek to aid in the closure of this investigation in an accurate, timely and deliberate fashion.”

The plane’s parts will be preserved for examination by the Air Accident Investigation Department. Among that department’s focus will be whether the plane crash was survivable.

Comments

DDK 1 year, 2 months ago

A "full review" will only be beneficial if the many deficiencies and inadequacies in the system and personnel involved are actually rectified, and KEPT rectified. These should include air AND sea accident and emergency response. The current system IS a national disgrace.

1

Well_mudda_take_sic 1 year, 2 months ago

LMAO.....ya gat dat right! This review will be filed with the do nuttin' BPL review, and all of the many other do nuttin' reviews Minnis has ordered. Minnis is truly wurtless!

0

ThisIsOurs 1 year, 2 months ago

I refuse to call it anything other than BEC cuz nuttin change. The new CEO pay all the people beaucoup dollars to skip Dodge then two weeks later someone had to tell him, you know, we really need those people. That is sheer incompetence, in any other country he would have been gone, he doesn't even understand what resources he needs to run the power plant. But Minnis let him stick around for a couple more weeks so he could burn up the engine

0

sheeprunner12 1 year, 2 months ago

Haven't we heard this from Minnis before????? ............. and got no answers??????

OBAN, BPL fire, Integrity Act, ............... and counting.

0

TheMadHatter 1 year, 2 months ago

If election were held tomorrow, more than half of FNM MPs would lose their seats - simply because the people have no money and the Government won't tell us what happened to our money.

The PLP need say nothing more than that to sweep them out. Don't mention not even one other subject.

0

sheeprunner12 1 year, 2 months ago

And who will you replace those 17 FNM MPs with?????????

0

DDK 1 year, 2 months ago

Useless, corrupt PLP's, of course.

0

sheeprunner12 1 year, 2 months ago

That is the dilemma we find ourselves in ........ just two (bad) options.

0

TheMadHatter 1 year, 2 months ago

The people will vote PLP or independent. At least with the PLP we know what they about. With this "transparency" crew you can't see thru the smoke. The DNA seems to be DOA.

0

Sickened 1 year, 2 months ago

Poor options indeed. I just know one thing - if the PLP get back in then I am certainly not paying any more Property Tax. It would be better spent paying the first year's amount directly to the 'bag man'.

0

ThisIsOurs 1 year, 2 months ago

People will not vote. They won't vote corrupt PLP that they remember vaguely and they won't vote for incomptence that is right in front of them. On the other hand, the 45% of the PLP who voted PLP in their most dismal state will be chomping at the bit to get to the polls. Minnis as leader = PLP victory. The FNMs have one year to deal with it.

0

licks2 1 year, 2 months ago

The 20% swing voters are the educated persons who "een on ya run" with ya backslash talking. . .WE WILL NEVER VOTE FOR YINNA CORRUPT PLP! The only persons yall will get to vote for ynna are yall base. . .THE 20% WILL DETERMINE THIS UP COMING ELECTION AGAIN. . .so yinna red of yellow can only talk yall dumb crap to yinna base. . .THE GOVERNMENT MAKERS ARE NOT IMPRESSED BY STUPIDITY!!!

0

sheeprunner12 1 year, 2 months ago

We have been going between pillar (PLP) and post (FNM) for 20 years ........... and what have we gotten for this????????? ........... more debt, downgrade, VAT, poverty, crime, and blacklisting ............. and that is FACTS.

2

TalRussell 1 year, 2 months ago

Ma comrade sources tucked away deep up in big pink house atop Mount Fitzwilliam - does reveal how even Papa Hubert has now grown frustrated with too many one--on-one face to face and phone consults with Peoples Her Excellency Marguerite. Your Excellency, listen Papa's calls to fire the undisciplined at governing Minnis, KP and Carl Wilshire.

0

bogart 1 year, 2 months ago

1997-FNM, 2002-PLP, 2007-FNM, 2012-PLP, 2017-FNM, 2022..... GIVEN THE ALTERNATING....both parties one slightly right and other slightly left of center......and debt higher....pore pore....rich..pore gap widening....r...likely some ....fiercely Nationalistic party.....Bahamian hardline dogmatic ...right....nononsense....group ...trend in number of countries

0

TigerB 1 year, 2 months ago

There is no NSTB here, and if we hire them wehave to pay big money, My suggestion is don't fly if you know we have no proper salvaging equipment. Plane will continue to crash, we just had one in January, people don't understand life is a chance, make sure ya heart right with God when you go on a plane, nothing to do with the Minister, defence or police. Marvin didn't fly the plane or crash it. Mr. Ferguson decided to fly himself now we playing the blame game... and its turning political...

0

birdiestrachan 1 year, 2 months ago

The PM should hang his head in shame along with lying Dames.. They will learn soon enough that their lies will come back to hunt them.... He will investigate this matter the same way he investigated the many messes of Banister at the power Company. it is to bad that MRS. Osbourne allowed the torch to blind her,

She should be singing "I can see clearly Now" Her and Sands.

1

sheeprunner12 1 year, 2 months ago

The "blame game" won't help us to get out this political morass ......... more deflection and stall tactics and "teachable moments" that the politicians or citizens do not really learn anything of substance from ......... the "can" moves but no one ever uses it to drink from it.

0

TigerB 1 year, 2 months ago

Plane crash is not political

0

sheeprunner12 1 year, 2 months ago

No ............. but politicians have created institutional systems that frustrate citizens.

1

bogart 1 year, 2 months ago

Plane crash is not political.......persons elected to lead da nation must have da vision....employs qualified...capable.......dis is a nation made up of plenty ocean....islands....dependent....on plemty travelljng on or over Water..SEA....our highways aint only asphalt... JFK....but also water....Given dis we should have ....water rescue teamms....BLESS BASRA AN ALL DA DERN HARDWORKING..DEDICATED VOLUNTEERS.SPENDING DERE OWN MONEY...SACRIFICES...we cant be seen worldwide to be building Maritime Ship Registry.....fine Maritime School.....but ...but....but.....CANT PUT TOGETHER ONE WELL EQUIPED SEA RESCUE...NATIONAL DEFENCE TEAM.....TO RESCUE ANY SINKING SHIP....rough sea weather.....CRASHED PLANE....MATTER A FACT WONT EVEN ASK WHEN DA LAST ....TIME THE BAHAMAS.....EVER HAD ONE SIMULATED SEA....DISASTER...RESCUE PRACTICE DRILL.......IF DEY EVEN CANT RESCUE..... ONE LIL AIR PLANE WID ONE PASSENGER...ONE MILE OFF...plane did still been floating.....SHORE FROM NASSAU BEACH.....

1

licks2 1 year, 2 months ago

WHAT I DON'T UNDERSTAND IS THAT THE USA COAST GUARD WAS OUT THERE TOO AND DID THE SAME THING AS OUR BOYS. . .BASRA TOO! So pray tell me why the RBPF and RBDF getting all the "bitch back" for conduction an initial search and rescue. . .and then a search and recovery the following morning. . .the same thing as every civilized nation do?? And can one of yinna can tell me which nation will go diving in the night if their operation is no longer and search and rescue and has become a search and RECOVERY that same night?? My people. . .please use ya google to understand them two terms in disaster response. . .especially at sea!!

0

sheeprunner12 1 year, 2 months ago

The people will vote PLP or independent. At least with the PLP we know what they about. With this "transparency" crew you can't see thru the smoke. The DNA seems to be DOA.

That is why our "first past the post" system is so frustrating ....... if we had proportional representation, then Independents or Third Parties can be elected to Parliament without having to actually "win a seat". Our system is designed to block Third Parties.

0

ThisIsOurs 1 year, 2 months ago

People won't waste a vote on Minnis or the PLP.

0

TheMadHatter 1 year, 2 months ago

You are probably right. BUT the problrm is those same frustrated voters WONT go out and vote for an independent. Staying home hiding under your bed wont stop the boogie man from eating your cookies.

0

ThisIsOurs 1 year, 2 months ago

Doesn't matter nobody wasting time to reelect Minnis. The FNM needs to fix it. I would vote for Komalafe (as an independent) if she ran in my constituency. Unfortunately I don't have much trust left. If she got in she'd have to prove her worth. Just not wasting time on the others anymore

0

DDK 1 year, 2 months ago

"The People" are already talking about putting the PLP back in. If a viable alternative does not present itself soon, it will happen.

0

licks2 1 year, 2 months ago

I suggest you come out of the PLP HQ and get in the streets. . .the 20% educated and swing voters determine governments. . .WE WILL NEVER GIVE OUR GOVERNMENT BACK INTO THE HANDS OF THE PLP CRIME SYNDICATE. . .

0

sheeprunner12 1 year, 2 months ago

Well ............... we need some strong women to run for Office ........ hint, hint

0

realfreethinker 1 year, 2 months ago

LBT is finish done aint o coming back for she@sheeprunner12

0

DDK 1 year, 2 months ago

In spite of the degree of doneness of LBT's goose, given a Minnis or Davis alternative, LBT would be the only viable option, in my humble opinion.

0

TalRussell 1 year, 2 months ago

Ma Comrade Sheeprunner12, we the PeoplePublic just want a government to set 7 priorities to be accomplished over what should be changed to 4 year governing mandate....all whilst all but eliminating traveling abroad by we elected and political appointees//// priority #1: The implementation Universal BahamaCARE. #2: The tax burden be totally removed away from pockets citizens earning less than $30,000 yearly. #3: Introducing Guaranteed Living Wage all working citizens.

0

OMG 1 year, 2 months ago

Everybody seems to blame the politicians but the real lousy culprits are the BDF Commodore and supervising officers. Like Education and Medical all these managerial persons only shine on a sunny day,dressed up in public and having public praise heaped upon them,

0

Bonefishpete 1 year, 2 months ago

From the looks of the recovered parts this seems like a uncontrolled crash into the ocean. Pilot said he had engine problems and an open door. Ditching at night without any visual reference to gauge height is always tricky. Pilot may of simply lost control on one engine and went into a vmc roll which is unrecoverable.If this had happened in the US the Coast Guard would of searched the waters for survivors. The outcome I believe would of been the same. Pilots know the score when flying, things can and do go wrong sometimes very wrong.

0

SP 1 year, 2 months ago

As long as the FNM or PLP governs, the Bahamas and Bahamians goose is cooked!

0

Well_mudda_take_sic 1 year, 2 months ago

Today there are 1,656 voters in the Killarney constituency who voted for Minnis in the last general election but now say they will never ever vote for him gain....and this number continues to increase with each passing day. Nearly 70% of the 1,656 say they will simply not vote at all if Minnis is once again the FNM candidate for Killarney. This situation will guarantee the PLP a victory in the Killarney constituency the next time around. The number one complaint about Minnis is that he's an incompetent and feckless leader with no power to shrink the size of government, preferring instead to tax hard working and honest Bahamians and their businesses to death to grow the size of government and buy the Haitian community vote. LMAO

0

sheeprunner12 1 year, 2 months ago

Is this a scientific poll ............ or what????????

0

realfreethinker 1 year, 2 months ago

Hey Bran aka well_mudda. Where did you get your fake poll from?

0

Well_mudda_take_sic 1 year, 1 month ago

This is not a poll with statistical extrapolation of any kind.....it's simply a hard count based on a brief phone discussion had with the head of household in each home/apartment/condo contacted to date within the Killarney constituency. The 1,656 is a hard number unless the individuals concerned are choosing not to tell the truth for whatever unknown reason. The majority of those contacted expressed disdain and disgust towards Minnis, some even had difficulty controlling their great anger borne out of a sense of betrayal. The dimwitted Doc is totally oblivious to the fact that he's "one and done" as far as his own Killarney constituents are concerned.

0

Sign in to comment