Ten U.S. citizens and two Costa Rican pilots were killed when the Cessna 208B Grand Caravan aircraft crashed minutes after takeoff into a mountainous area off the beach town of Punta Islita, the Costa Rican government said. The town is in the province of Guanacaste, about 230 km (140 miles) west of the capital of San Jose.
The dead included the Steinberg family, consisting of a couple and their three sons.
“We are in utter shock and disbelief right now,” Tamara Steinberg Jacobsen, the sister of the father, Bruce Steinberg, said on Facebook, where she posted pictures of the family and thanked people for their condolences.
“This will be our last post until we know further details. At this time we ask for privacy other than from immediate family and closest friends,” she said in a subsequent post.
The family was identified as Bruce and Irene Steinberg and their sons William, Zachary and Matthew, The New York Times reported, citing relatives and a family friend.
Nature Air, the Costa Rican company that operated the flight, identified the five Steinbergs and five other passengers: Thibault Astruc, Amanda Geissler, Charles Palmer, Leslie Weiss and Sherry Wuu.
All 10 passengers were U.S. citizens, the State Department confirmed on Monday.
They all died along with Costa Rican pilots Juan Manuel Retana and Emma Ramos, Nature Air said.
Bruce Steinberg worked in investment banking and Irene Steinberg volunteered for many nonprofit groups, The Times said, citing a family friend, Lyn Kaller.
Matthew was an eighth-grader at a private school, William attended the University of Pennsylvania and Zachary was at Johns Hopkins University, the Times reported.
“They were a very loving, close family. They were devoted to their children. Any picture you see of them, it was full of smiles,” Kaller was quoted as saying by The Journal News, which covers the Lower Hudson Valley area of New York state.
Reached by Reuters on Sunday, Kaller declined to comment.
Officials as of Sunday had yet to determine the cause of the crash, said Enio Cubillo, director of Costa Rica’s civil aviation agency.
Punta Islita, on Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast, is popular among North American and European tourists for its pristine beaches and lush landscape.
Reporting by Reuters; editing by Jonathan Oatis.