NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) yesterday extended condolences to the two men who perished in a plane crash in Treasure Cay, Abaco, on Monday.
Former RBDF officers Lavan Paul and Jason Allen were the sole occupants of a Westwind aircraft that crashed shortly after take-off from the Treasure Cay Airport around 2.10pm on Monday.
The aircraft reportedly burst into flames upon impact.
Officials confirmed on Wednesday the men’s bodies have been retrieved and flown to New Providence for an autopsy.
The RBDF, in separate statements yesterday, recognized the former officers for their service.
“Acting Sub Lieutenant Lavan Paul joined the organization as a member of Entry 48, on June 6, 2011,” the RBDF noted.
“On completion of his initial training, he was immediately drafted to the Military Police Department, where he served until he was selected as an officer candidate to go to Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, in April 2012 to complete officer training.
“He was assigned to a patrol craft upon completion of the officer training, with a view of earning a Bridge Watch Keeping Certificate before eventually joining the Airwing Department.
“He was appointed to the rank of acting sub-lieutenant and assigned to the Airwing Department, where he served until he resigned from the organization on July 17, 2017.”
Meanwhile, the RBDF noted former Marine Seaman Allen joined the organization as a member of Entry 52 on January 10, 2015.
“On completion of his initial training, he was immediately drafted to the Airwing Department, where he was assigned as a pilot-in-training/air crewman,” the defense force said.
“He was later drafted to the Force Protection and Military Police Unit, where he served until his honorable discharge from the organization on August 31, 2018.
“Allen’s time spent as a member of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force is greatly appreciated.”
To the surviving family members and loved ones of both men, the RBDF said: “…May God’s grace and richest blessings help you find comfort and peace during your time of bereavement.”
The circumstances surrounding the tragic incident are still unfolding as investigations are ongoing.
Authorities have confirmed neither pilot was licensed to fly the type of aircraft they were in.
Initial reports indicated the Israel Aircraft Industries 1124A Westwind twin-jet aircraft — with US registration number N790RJ — flew into Treasure Cay last week Friday from the Dominican Republic.
It was reportedly scheduled to fly to New Providence on Monday.
But officials said the plane had challenges gaining altitude upon take-off, and eyewitnesses claimed it ultimately took a nosedive mid-air.
Officials also said the weather was “not bad” when the plane was taking off, but that conditions became “intense” shortly afterward, further hampering rescue efforts already made difficult by the fire.
On Tuesday, the plane was reported stolen, and at last report, two American men were in custody and being questioned by police.