2 bodies recovered in Texas cargo plane crash; surveillance video shows "steep descent," NTSB says

By Peter Martinez

/ CBS News

Boeing 767 cargo jet with 3 aboard crashes in Texas

At least two bodies have been recovered Sunday at the site where a twin-engine cargo plane carrying three people crashed into a bay east of Houston, according Chambers County Sheriff Brian Hawthorne. The Boeing 767-300 plane, operated by Atlas Air Inc., originated from Miami International Airport and lost radio contact approximately 30 miles southeast of Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport. Officials said surveillance video shows the plane for five seconds "in a steep descent with its nose down."

CBS News learned moments after a Sunday press briefing that Mesa Airlines confirmed one of its employees was onboard Atlas Air Flight 3581 on Saturday, identified as Captain Sean Archuleta, who had been a pilot for Mesa since 2013 and had been riding in the aircraft's jump seat.

"This is a sad day for the entire Mesa Family as we mourn the loss of Captain Sean Archuleta," said Jonathan Ornstein, the company's chairman and chief executive officer. "Our thoughts are with Sean's family, the families of the two Atlas Air pilots, and the whole Atlas Air organization. This is a loss for all of aviation."

The identity of the other two victims was not made immediately clear.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said in Sunday's briefing that finding the plane's black boxes are a "high priority" as investigators search through the debris field. NTSB chairman Robert Sumwalt said they are having trouble locating the black boxes because they are apparently submerged too far in the muddy bay for their location to be tracked using their "pingers." He explained scuba divers, teams wading in the water or dredging will be used if needed.

NTSB said video footage of the plane prior to the crash — captured by a camera from a jail about a mile away — won't be made public for quite some time as the investigation continues.

Video from CBS affiliate KHOU-TV showed wreckage in the shallow water of Trinity Bay. There was rain in the area when air traffic control lost contact with the plane.

The cargo plane had been carrying packages for Amazon's Prime Air service. It was on approach to Houston's airport when air traffic controllers warned the pilots they were approaching bad weather.

Saturday, Boeing tweeted a statement saying it was aware of the crash and "gathering more information."

Jason Campbell was one of the civilian boaters at the site of the crash Saturday and described the grim scene.

"Pieces of bodies, nothing bigger than … you know," Campbell told KHOU-TV. "It's obvious it's human pieces, but nothing bigger than you can hold in your hands."

190224-cbs-cargo-jet-crash-houston-01.png
The field of debris after a Boeing 767 cargo plane crashed east of Houston on Sat., Feb. 23, 2019. CBS News

Justin Carissimo and Kris Van Cleave contributed to this report.

First published on February 24, 2019 / 6:05 PM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

190224-cbs-cargo-jet-crash-houston-02.png 190224-cbs-cargo-jet-crash-houston-01.png

Oscars 2019: Winners and highlights — live updates

The 91st annual Academy Awards kick off Sunday evening on ABC

11M ago

2 bodies recovered from cargo plane crash in Texas

One of three victims of Saturday's crash has been identified as Captain Sean Archuleta, a pilot for Mesa Airlines since 2013

16M ago

Pence to announce "clear actions" on Venezuela after deadly weekend clashes

Pence will travel to Bogotá, Colombia, to hold his first in-person meeting with Juan Guaidó, who the U.S. recognizes as the interim president of Venezuela

29M ago

GOP rep deployed to border defends Trump's emergency declaration

The GOP Congressman from Illinois was deployed to the U.S.-Mexico border earlier this month with his Air National Guard unit

4H ago

Democratic governors blast Trump's "illegal" emergency declaration

"I believe under our current system of democracy this action by this president is illegal and unconstitutional," Gov. Jay Inslee said

4H ago

Pence to announce "clear actions" on Venezuela after deadly weekend clashes

Pence will travel to Bogotá, Colombia, to hold his first in-person meeting with Juan Guaidó, who the U.S. recognizes as the interim president of Venezuela

29M ago

GOP rep deployed to border defends Trump's emergency declaration

The GOP Congressman from Illinois was deployed to the U.S.-Mexico border earlier this month with his Air National Guard unit

4H ago

Democratic governors blast Trump's "illegal" emergency declaration

"I believe under our current system of democracy this action by this president is illegal and unconstitutional," Gov. Jay Inslee said

4H ago

Markey: Congress should fight to release Mueller report if DOJ "sanitizes" it

The Massachusetts Democrat said the American people need to know whether Trump's 2016 campaign colluded with the Kremlin

5H ago

Blunt: Senate Intel wants to see Mueller report before concluding probe

The Missouri Republican said the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence needs access to Mueller's investigation before issuing a final report

6H ago

Pence to announce "clear actions" on Venezuela after deadly weekend clashes

Pence will travel to Bogotá, Colombia, to hold his first in-person meeting with Juan Guaidó, who the U.S. recognizes as the interim president of Venezuela

29M ago

Kim Jong Un leaves on train for Vietnam summit

TV footage and photos distributed by the North's state-run news agency showed Kim inspecting a guard of honor at the Pyongyang station before waving from the train

18H ago

Puerto Rico governor: Venezuela threatened U.S.-financed ship

The ship carrying humanitarian aid for Venezuela was dispatched and financed by Puerto Rico's government

22H ago

Venezuelan soldiers unleash tear gas as tensions rise over blocked aid

Opposition leader Juan Guaido has vowed to bring aid into the country over objections from President Nicolas Maduro

Feb 23

At least 93 people have died after drinking tainted liquor in India

The liquor was laced with methyl alcohol, which attacks the central nervous system

Feb 23

Oscars 2019: Winners and highlights — live updates

The 91st annual Academy Awards kick off Sunday evening on ABC

11M ago

Download Oscar ballot for your office pool or party

Planning an Academy Award office pool, or an Oscar-watching party? Download our ballot of nominees (PDF)

5H ago

Oscars 2019: How to stream online or watch on TV

The Oscars ceremony will begin at 8 p.m. ET (5 p.m. PT)

5H ago

David Edelstein's Oscar picks

Our film critic makes his predictions for this year's Academy Awards, in particular that it will more bad fun than any Oscar show in years

8H ago

Frank talk with Angie Dickinson

The actress known for "Police Woman" and for hanging with the Rat Pack speaks up about Sinatra, JFK, and the #MeToo movement

8H ago

Horrified mom discovers suicide instructions on YouTube Kids

She has made it her mission to bring awareness to disturbing and violent content being consumed by children on social media

Feb 23

Microsoft workers protest use of HoloLens headsets for war

They say they "refuse to create technology for warfare and oppression"

Feb 23

I opened an email from a "friend." It turned out to be a trick — and dangerous

The email had her photo and mentioned personal details only she would know

Feb 23

NASA, SpaceX set for critical test flight

Test flight intended to clear the way for summer resumption of piloted space missions from U.S. soil

Feb 22

American, Singapore Airlines have cameras in seat backs

Newer entertainment systems on some American Airlines and Singapore Airlines planes can monitor passengers

Feb 22

Company may have leaked carcinogen into air for years

Breathing in high concentrations of the chemical TCE has been linked to kidney cancer, liver cancer and lymphoma

Feb 22

Child dies a day after flu diagnosis

41 children have died from flu-related causes this flu season, including a fourth-grader who died just one day after being diagnosed

Feb 22

Woman dies after eating at Michelin-starred restaurant

One woman died and 28 other diners have fallen ill after eating at a Michelin-starred restaurant in Valencia, Spain

Feb 22

FDA warns about potentially harmful dietary supplements

Americans spent more than $40 billion on supplements last year, with 3 out of 4 people regularly taking them

Feb 22

"Heartless": Hospital and doctor accused of giving lethal doses of fentanyl

CBS News spoke with five people who said their family members died while under Dr. William Husel's care at Mount Carmel Hospital

Feb 22

Getting houses ready for their closeup

Home stylist Meridith Baer has the touch – and a proven track record – for staging homes on the market

8H ago

I opened an email from a "friend." It turned out to be a trick — and dangerous

The email had her photo and mentioned personal details only she would know

Feb 23

Oscar win for Roma not a happy ending for cinemas

Theaters are struggling as streamers claim audiences and traditional Hollywood studios play catch up

Feb 22

Chevy Volt discontinued: Chevrolet's last Volt rolls off the assembly line

The last Chevrolet Volt was built on Tuesday, ending a decade-long quest to make a breakthrough battery-powered car

Feb 22

American, Singapore Airlines have cameras in seat backs

Newer entertainment systems on some American Airlines and Singapore Airlines planes can monitor passengers

Feb 22

Could a new Calif. law free a convicted killer when he turns 25?

When an elderly couple was found brutally murdered in their bed – stabbed 128 times — police faced the coldest killer they’d ever encountered … and he was just 15

19H ago

Was a Virginia teen lured to her death through a smartphone app?

Two promising college students stand trial in the girl’s 2016 death

20H ago

Prosecutor outlines sex abuse allegations against R. Kelly

Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx described the allegations involving four women

Feb 23

R. Kelly bond set at $1 million on sexual abuse charges

The bail amount equals $250,000 for each of the four people Kelly is charged with abusing

Feb 23

Calif. governor orders more DNA testing in 1983 murders

Kevin Cooper, who has been on Death Row, has said he was framed for the hatchet and knife killings of four people, including two children, in Chino Hills

Feb 22  Original Article