Search continues for body of victim, black box in Amazon Prime Air cargo plane crash

Jorge L. Ortiz and Trevor Hughes

Investigators in Texas continued to search Monday for the body of an Amazon Prime Air cargo plane crash victim and clues to what caused the accident outside Houston that killed all three people on board.

The black box containing flight data has not been recovered after the Saturday crash. It is believed to be submerged in the muddy waters of Trinity Bay, where the plane plummeted about 35 miles east of Houston.

On Sunday, emergency workers recovered the second body from the crash site, and the plane's operator, Atlas Air, said there were no survivors. The first body was recovered Saturday. The Boeing 767 was on a scheduled cargo flight for Amazon from Miami to Houston when the crash occurred. 

The Houston Chronicle identified the victims as Capt. Sean Archuleta of Houston, Capt. Ricky Blakely of Indiana and First Officer Conrad Jules Aska of Antigua, basing the report on accounts by friends and family on social media.

More: Three confirmed dead after Amazon Prime Air cargo plane crash in Texas

There has been no official confirmation of the identities, although Archuleta’s employer, Mesa Airlines, released a statement mourning his death. He had been a pilot for the company since 2013.

“This is a sad day for the entire Mesa Family as we mourn the loss of Captain Sean Archuleta,’’ Mesa Chairman and CEO Jonathan Ornstein said. “This is a loss for all of aviation.’’

Don Dalton, whom the Chronicle identified as Archuleta’s roommate of three years, told the newspaper the 36-year-old pilot recently became a father again and had landed his dream job with United Airlines. He was scheduled to start next week and took a ride on the cargo plane to return home from Miami.

“He got his dream, almost,’’ Dalton was quoted as saying. “Now he'll never fly it ... that's the part that kills me.’’

The Chambers County Sheriff’s Office said the two bodies recovered Sunday were sent to a medical examiner’s office for autopsies.

NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt said security video from a jail about a mile away from the crash site showed the plane heading toward the ground nose first. Air traffic controllers reported rain in the area, Sumwalt said, and the plane did not send out a distress call before the wreck.

The interaction between the pilots and the air traffic controllers noted the rain, which was heavy in some spots, according to the Chronicle, and how to best get around it while avoiding departing planes.

Atlas CEO Bill Flynn, who was at the crash site with other company representatives and federal, state and local investigators, said Atlas is setting up assistance programs for the family members of those killed in the crash.

Witnesses said they heard the plane’s engines surging and watched the craft turn sharply before falling into a nosedive, Chambers County Sheriff Brian Hawthorne said.

Investigators say the crash left debris strewn across a wide area of Trinity Bay.

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Search continues for body of victim, black box in Amazon Prime Air cargo plane crash