Cape May, NJ (Off Shore) Columbia Air Force Plane Crash, Oct 1982


Cape May, N.J. (UPI) -- Coast Guard officials said the chance of survival was dwindling today for four men believed trapped inside a wrecked and partially submerged Columbian Air Force plane. A fifth man was presumed lost.
Eight crewmen were rescued from the plane that was ditched Saturday in turbulent seas 180 miles from the New Jersey coast.
Heavy seas kept rescuers from reaching the plane Sunday and a search for survivors was to resume at dawn.
But Robert Fullerton, a Coast Guard spokesman, said search planners would take a "very hard look" today at the value of continuing the hunt.
"Given the wind and the circumstances of the seas not diminishing, and add into the whole scenario that the plane went down on Saturday -- it lessens the chance of finding survivors," Fullerton said.
Search planes that patrolled the area around the floating cargo plane returned to base when darkness fell Sunday while a Navy and two Coast Guard vessels remained in the area during the night.
Earlier in the day, divers were prevented from inspecting the craft because of 30 to 40 knot winds that kicked up waves 8 to 12-feet high.
The tail of the Columbian Air Force Hercules C-130 bobbed above the waves in the Atlantic Ocean.
Thirteen people were aboard the plane when it ran out of fuel and ditched about 2:30 p.m. Saturday.
Eight crewmembers were rescued by a nearby Liberian tanker, the Corner Brook.
Two of those rescued and rushed to Portsmith Naval Hospital in Portsmith, Va., were reported in stable condition. They were identified as Capt. HECTOR CONTRERAS and Technician First Class GORDILLO JILBERTO.
In Washington, the Columbian air attache, Brig. Gen. Gilberto Franco said the six men aboard the Corner Brook were Brig. Gen. ALFREDO ORTEGA; Lt. Col. LOUIS RESTREPO; Lt. Col. LOUIS MERA; Lt. CESAR BERMULDEZ; chief technician OSORIO (no first name available) and technician RICARDO QUINTRO.
They were not in need of medical attention and would remain aboard the ship as it steamed to Nova Scotia, Fullerton said.
Four others were trapped inside the cockpit or cargo area of the plane and a fifth man who was spotted briefly clinging to the plane's wing quickly disappeared, Fullerton said.
Franco identified the five missing men as Col. ABRAHAM JARAMILLO; Lt. Col. ARMANDO ALBA; Maj. FERNANDO RODRIGUEZ; technician JESUS RODRIGUEZ and PETER CHARRIA, a reporter for Columbian Caracal radio news network.
Fullerton said the plane had taken off from the Azores Islands and was headed to Bermuda when its navigational system apparently failed.
The pilot appeared to be headed for the American mainland when he ran out of fuel, radioed for help, then ditched, said Fullerton.

Altoona Mirror Pennsylvania 1982-10-18