The small plane that crashed on private property in the vicinity of Delicias de Garza on Thursday, March 7, might have taken off earlier than planned thanks to neighbors alerting the Public Force police.
Roxana Diaz, a neighbor who lives 800 meters from the airstrip from which the plane took off, said that she, her husband and her mother saw a plane “that went down into the trees” at 4:30 p.m. and they thought that it had crashed. In reality, it was landing, and they didn’t know there was a private airstrip there.
“It’s the first time we heard a plane. We thought it was an accident,” Diaz said.
The Diaz family ran to the entrance gate of the property where the plane had gone down, where they met a man who was working at the entrance. The gate was padlocked and the young man told them that “he had not seen anything, that nothing unusual had happened and that the plane had gone,” Diaz related.
However, other neighbors also thought the plane had crashed and called 911 to report the possible accident. Minutes after the Diaz family insisted the young man let them through, a patrol unit from the Samara Public Force arrived at the entrance of the property with two officers, and they began to ask the young man questions.
Ten minutes later, they heard the plane takeoff.
“When the police arrived to find out if there had been an accident, the plane took off,” Diaz said. “It must have been 20 minutes after landing.”
Then Diaz and the others heard the crash, the officers got in the patrol vehicle, and she and her husband ran through the woods toward the place where the aircraft fell. They were among the first to arrive but the plane was already in flames.
The Plane’s Crash
Ryan Bombard, chief of the Nosara firefighters, was called at 5:39 p.m. from 911, but when he arrived at the scene at 6 p.m., the plane was already “completely burned to the ground.”
Cessna Engine at the scene of the accident. Photo by Nosara Firefighters
Minutes later, three firefighters from Nicoya, the Nosara Red Cross and “every kind of police imaginable arrived: OIJ, the Public Force, the Tourist Police, everyone,” Bombard said.
In the plane, they were able to identify two burned up bodies and packages of drugs in what was left of the back of the plane, a single-engine Cessna.
On Cessna’s official website, it specifies that this type of aircraft can carry up to 581 kilograms (1281 pounds). According to civil aviation’s standard measures, the average weight of two people is 160 kilograms (350 pounds) and the amount of cocaine found was 50 kilograms (110 pounds), so the theory that extra weight was the reason for the accident can be ruled out.
The property where the plane crashed is about 600 meters from Route 160, between the communities of Barco Quebrado and Playa Garza, in the area known as Ferco. At the crash site, there is a caretaker’s house and a small clearing.
Although the farm is registered under the name of Roberto Suarez, a well-known property owner in the area who is about 75 years old and also owns two gas stations and several more properties, apparently Suarez sold it to foreigners a few months ago.
The Voice of Guanacaste tried to talk to relatives of Suarez to confirm the sale but their cell phones went straight to voice mail.
Bombard explained that the plane first crashed into several trees, causing it to lose part of a wing, and then crashed into a cement post on the ground.
“I think the people were already dead when the plane caught fire,” Bombard said.
In the last two days, specifically since the evening of Monday, April 4, Anais Rodriguez wondered what was happening in the Vega Mar Restaurant’s cabins , next to her house.
“We saw cars coming and going, a black Hilux, another pickup truck, a closed car. They only left at night and sometimes we saw that they were carrying coolers and they moved them from one car to another,” Rodriguez said.
Guardhouse at the property where this illegal runway is and the black Toyota Hilux. Photo by Betsy Chavarria.
At noon on Thursday, April 7, a few hours before the plane accident, Rodriguez saw about five cars in a row leaving the restaurant, and she saw a woman in one of them.
“These people had said that they were in the area looking to buy a big property, but when a neighbor started asking more, they told him to keep quiet,” added Rodriguez.
She was also surprised on Thursday at 4:30 p.m., when she heard a plane flying low and she also thought it had crashed.
“The plane went pum, pum, pum, like when there is no more gas, and here we all thought it had crashed. Then we heard it leave again, also making that noise like it was out of gas and that is when we heard the explosion,” Rodriguez commented.
On the property where the illegal landing strip is, a truck with a shotgun, an Uzi submachine gun, $45,000, a black Hilux pickup truck with another 50 kilograms of cocaine and two more sacks of drugs were found. A total of 110 kilograms of drugs have been found so far.
There were also nine empty containers that had held gasoline.
Jeison Vargas, chief of the Nosara Tourist Police, stated that “these thugs rarely leave drugs and money behind. Something happened.”
The flight was not registered with Civil Aviation and the route it was taking is unknown, nor do authorities know who the people inside the aircraft were, their nationalities or what group or drug cartel they belonged to.