"Any picture you see of them it was full of smiles," said Lyn Kaller, a family friend of the Steinbergs, who died in a Costa Rican plane crash Friday

By Kathy Ehrich Dowd
January 01, 2018 10:32 AM
Credit: Irene Steinberg Facebook

A Scarsdale, New York, family of five on vacation in Costa Rica died Sunday after the single-engine plane they were traveling in crashed into a mountain, killing all 12 people on board, according to The New York Times and other outlets.

Bruce and Irene Steinberg and their three sons — William, Zachary and Matthew — were headed toward the country’s capital of San José to celebrate New Year’s when authorities in Guanacaste, a popular tourist region, received reports of smoke and flames rising from a wooded area near Punta Islita Airport.

Emergency responders soon discovered charred pieces of the Cessna plane, and the burned remains of those on board, the Times reported.

Plane Crash, Punta Islita, Costa Rica - 31 Dec 2017
Wreckage from the Costa Rican plane crash
| Credit: Ministry of Public Security HANDOUT/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

They were a very loving, close family,” Lyn Kaller, Irene’s longtime friend, told The Journal News. “They were devoted to their children. Any picture you see of them it was full of smiles.”

Kaller also spoke to the Times, and told both publications that the parents were dedicated to showing their three boys the world, and traveled to Asia last year. The latest trip was timed to take place during school break for all three children: William was a college student at the University of Pennsylvania, Zachary attended Johns Hopkins, and Matthew was an eighth grader at a private school.

“Irene and Bruce felt very strongly about providing that kind of culture and enrichment for their children,” Kaller told the Times.

Wreckage from the Costa Rican plane crash
| Credit: EZEQUIEL BECERRA/AFP/Getty Images

Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solís Rivera released a statement about the crash on Facebook late Sunday, writing “I am in solidarity, on behalf of the people and government of Costa Rica, with the families of those who died in today’s tragic air crash. To them, who lost their loved ones, peace and resignation in this hour of deep pain.”

Small plane crashes in Costa Rica killing 12, San Jose - 31 Dec 2017
Aerial view of the plane crash
| Credit: Ministry of Public Security HANDOUT/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Funeral plans for the Steinberg family are currently underway, per the News.

“This was a trip they were really looking forward to,” Kaller told the publication. “It’s just a tragedy.”

The Weiss family of Belleair, Florida, also died in the crash, according to multiple reports.


Dr. Mitchell Weiss, 52, and his wife Leslie Weiss, 50, also a physician, died alongside their children, daughter Hannah Weiss, 19, and Ari Moses Weiss, 16, reports the Associated Press and other outlets.

Family friend Pam Kravitz told the Tampa Bay Times the parents were devoted doctors who were committed to helping their community.

Mitchell and Ari Weiss

“That was their lives work,” Kravitz said. “They were very, very giving. They were amazing. This is a tragedy to lose them.”

Leslie and Ari Weiss

David Premer, their next-door neighbor, described them as “a super down-to-earth family. They were always offering to help any way they can.”

Another American, whose name has not yet been released, also died in the crash, along with two Costa Rican pilots.