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Thirty four year old Byron Ferguson who went down last year 8 November 2018 in  a plane crash off the western coast of New Providence and whose body was never found is almost certainly dead.  The report on the accident by the Bahamian authorities was released last week on Monday 16 December 2019.  The report revealed negligence on the part of the search and rescue efforts of the Bahamian authorities. The Royal Bahamas Defence Force found the plane on the night of the crash but abandoned the site to come back in the morning.  In the morning, the plane was gone. The most scathing responses were against the Minister of National Security Marvin Dames who just came off as an insensitive  twit, seeking to defend the indefensible.

Here is what Rashad Rolle of The Tribune reported on 17 December 2019:

“The Air Accident Investigation Department (AAID) has noted in its report that the country does not have a designated search and rescue entity that meets international standards and has recommended that international requirements be fulfilled.

The AAID report also reveals that it took rescue teams one hour to reach the vicinity of Mr Ferguson’s downed plane after the pilot reported engine problems and crashed.

As a signatory to the Convention on the International Civil Aviation, the country is required to comply with Annex 12 by designating an appropriate entity to perform search and rescue services, by granting the Bahamas Civil Aviation Authority the power to provide oversight of that entity and establishing a rescue coordination centre to support rescue services, according to the report.

AAID Chief Investigator Delvin Major said this country has done none of this.

 “There are 12 annexes and (search and rescue) has not been given much emphasis,” he said yesterday. “There is a need for legislation and the designated body has to meet many specific requirements relating to budget, training, manpower, rescue plans and infrastructure and the defence force does not meet the requirements. It’s difficult therefore to blame any one particular body for how the rescue was conducted because none of them are legislatively mandated to be the official search and rescue entity for The Bahamas. The defence force, BASRA, the US Coast Guard, they all assist but none are officially and legally approved to perform the function. We need to designate a body and in doing so equip them according to ICAO requirements.”

Here is how the family of Mr. Ferguson responded to Marvin Dames, the Minister who sought to defend the behaviour of the Royal Bahama Defence Force.

 Marvin Dames, I heard your recent interview. You were basically saying that the investigative report into Byron’s crash is an attack on the men and women of the defence force.

I am not defending that report but I don’t think the general point should be missed either. How about this? It was an attack on YOU more than anyone else.

I have noticed your attitude ever since this crash. You are very defensive and even a bit inappropriate when anyone questions or criticizes the search and rescue that went into this tragedy.

It is making me wonder. Were you the one who gave the green-light to call off the search so prematurely that night? Because this surely touches a nerve for you. 

Did those officers act independently by calling off the search and giving an interview confirming the same without getting a green-light from “someone”?

It would make sense why you appear to take the criticisms so visceral.

The family criticized the search. You are taken aback. The public must not rush to judgement. Byron did not file a flight plan.

Your colleague question the search. He is off base.

The government’s own aviation investigative authorities who are professionals in this area do an investigation for an entire year and produce a report. You see the report as an attack on the men and women of the BDF.

Everybody has been able to see deficiencies, except you. Eat a slice of humble pie my brother.

I would tell you this. Byron has friends and family on that Defence Force and other uniformed branches. Hard working men and women. They give their life, make many sacrifices, even get injured on that job. Many of them were annoyed about how his search and rescue was handled also. I can name drop more than a handful for you.

An off duty BDF diver assisted those civilians who found the plane parts a week later. I want the public to know that.

When the private deep sea diver went out on the two days, BDF divers covered for him and provided assistance. I want the public to know that.

However BDF officers function according to the orders they are given.

The ICAO standards and annexes not implemented that the report speaks to, those officers have no clue about those things. Their leaders supposed to interpret these things and provide them with the organizational structure, tools, and directive to act.


Those foot soldiers can hold their heads high. They are untarnished.

This is not about them. Don’t inject those decent men and women into your failings. This is about leadership. Since YOU brought the point up ….

-Dr. Ashton Ferguson