"Knowing what I saw, I can't imagine how anyone could have survived", Hawthorne said.
Data gathered by online websites show that the plane, which was flying from Miami to Houston, rapidly lost altitude.
Atlas Air said three people were on the plane, "and their family members are our top priority at this time".
The Chambers County Sheriff's Office said the aircraft was discovered in Jack's Pocket at the northern end of the bay, which is east of Houston.
The aircraft involved was a almost 27 year old 767 that flew for China Southern and LAN before being converted to a cargo aircraft in 2014 and then delivered to Atlas.
The last transmission sent to the aircraft warned of heavy rain near the airport.
The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the cause of the crash.
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The twin-engine plane had departed from Miami and went down in Trinity Bay, just north of Galveston Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.
The Federal Aviation Administration issued an alert notice after losing radar and radio contact with the plane approximately 30 miles southeast of George Bush Intercontinental Airport.
The jet had flown for Prime Air since April 2017, as per Flight Global.
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FAA investigators are on their way to the accident site and the National Transportation Safety Board has been notified.
The NTSB will be in charge of the investigation and said it was sending a team to investigate.
We will have more information as this story develops.