MIAMI — A Coast Guard radar plane returning from a patrol for drug smugglers caught fire and crashed early today near a U.S. naval station in Puerto Rico, killing all four men aboard.
They were the first deaths for the Coast Guard since it began drug-smuggling interdiction work in the 1970s.
The E-2C Hawkeye, a twin-engine turboprop radar aircraft, crashed about 500 yards from the runway at Roosevelt Roads Naval Station at 12:21 a.m., said Lt. Cmdr. Jeff Karonis, a Coast Guard spokesman in Miami. The naval station is in a remote area on the east coast of Puerto Rico.