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Top stories of 2019 (#4): Plane carrying Amazon cargo crashes into Trinity Bay, kills 3 aboard

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HOUSTONEditor’s note: Through the end of the year, click2houston.com is looking back at the biggest stories of the year, based on what was most popular on our website this year.

#7: Tropical Storm Imelda slips in, causes major flooding and kills at least 5 people

#6: Astros fall in seven games, Cole leaves but Verlander wins Cy Young

#5: Harding Street raid prompts extensive investigation, multiple federal charges


Just approximately 40-miles from its destination, a cargo plane, contracted by Amazon, crashed southeast of Houston into Trinity Bay on Feb. 23, 2019.

Atlas Air flight 3591 departing from Miami was en rout to George Bush Intercontinental Airport but came down from 6,000 feet in the air at about 500 mph before crashing, according to a report by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

Who was aboard the flight?

The crash killed three aboard. The victims were identified as Sean Archuleta, Conrad Aska and Ricky Blakely.

From left to right: Sean Archuleta, Conrad Aska and Ricky Blakely.
From left to right: Sean Archuleta, Conrad Aska and Ricky Blakely. (Family Photo/CCSO)

It was learned, Archuleta took Atlas Air 3591 in lieu of another aircraft he was originally scheduled to be on, according to Mesa Airlines.

Atlas Air pilots Aska and Blakely had a combined flight experience of 16,000 hours.

After recovering a cockpit voice recorder, a transcript of the audio was released by NTSB. The 54-page report revealed the last words of Aska- “Lord, you have my soul,” which later made headlines.

What was the cause?

Reports show the plane entered turbulence around 12:37 p.m. Controller Josh Verde directed pilots Aska and Blakely around the harsh weather, and a minute later told them they would clear the weather in about 18 miles. This is when pilots responded “Sounds good” and “OK” to Verde, according to the report.

Just minutes later, the plane was pitching 49-degrees nose down, entering rapid descent at maximum thrust, according to the report. The transcript reveals pilot Aska say “We’re stalling. Stall!” followed by “Oh, Lord. Have mercy. Lord, have mercy!” before calling for captain Archuleta. According to the report, the stall warning did not activate.

The final probable cause report is expected to be released in 2020.


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