Searchers in southern Venezuela found the bodies of five passengers in a plane operated by New Tribes Mission (NTM) seven days after it crashed in rugged mountainous territory of the Amazon jungle. The Cessna 207 slammed into Mount Marahuaca on March 23, shortly after takeoff in hazy weather made worse by extensive wildfires burning in the rain forest in northern Brazil and southern Venezuela.
Killed in the crash were the pilot, Rick Burd, 45, of York, Pennsylvania, a 22-year veteran of flying for NTM; Tim Stucky, 15, of Newton, Kansas, the son of NTM missionaries; Bob McCormick, 60, and Ida McCormick, 56, of Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada, volunteer teachers with the mission; and Freda Lopez, a Maquiritare woman of Venezuela.
The plane was reported missing soon after takeoff from the village of Toqui bound for Puerto Ayacucho. A locator signal was detected that evening, but it took seven days for rescuers to reach the crash site due to rugged terrain, high winds, and poor visibility.
Searchers finally reached the plane after the Venezuelan military dropped them above the crash and they rappelled down to the site. The Sanford, Florida-based NTM has worked in Venezuela since 1946 and has more than 100 American personnel in the country.1
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