On Saturday night (December 3), a private plane crashed into the Gulf of Mexico near the Florida coast, leaving two people confirmed dead and a third missing.
The investigation began on Sunday morning (December 4). Authorities in Venice, Florida, received a call from the Federal Aviation Administration. A single-engine Piper Cherokee due to arrive at its origin airport in St. Petersburg, Florida was missing, the aircraft hours past its scheduled arrival time.
At the same time, boaters enjoying a day in the Autumn sun were about to discover a disturbing scene. As they jetted along the Venice shoreline, they spotted a body, and immediately called the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office for help. Upon arriving at the scene, sheriff’s deputies discovered it was a recently deceased woman, her body floating about 2.5 miles west of the Venice coast.
Calling a dive team to the scene, Sarasota County officers located the wreckage of the rented private airplane at around 2 p.m. The aircraft was only about a third of a mile from the shoreline and directly west of the Venice airport.
Sadly, rescuers also discovered that the woman’s body wasn’t the only casualty from the plane crash. In the plane’s passenger area, they found a deceased child. A third victim, believed to be a male passenger or pilot, remained missing as of Sunday (December 4).
FAA Releases Statement Regarding Fatal Plane Crash
In a subsequent statement released by the FAA, it was revealed that the plane departed the Venice Municipal Airport at around 7:30 p.m. Saturday with three people onboard.
“This is a very active search and investigation,” the Venice Police Department explained. “Although VPD has information on the persons believed to have been in the aircraft, officials are not releasing that information as yet, pending proper family notifications and clearance from other involved agencies, including the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).”
“Search and crash scene assistance is ongoing from the Sheriff’s Office, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Sarasota Police Department, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), and the District 12 Medical Examiner’s Office,” they continued. “At this time, search efforts are continuing for a potential missing male occupant. The search effort will continue until sunset and resume as conditions allow.”
The cause of the crash remains unknown at this time. However, the investigation into the cause and the location of the male passenger is continuing today (Monday, December 5).
According to retired pilot Scott Harlow, crashes such as these aren’t uncommon. In addition to the dangers that come with piloting a small plane, flying at night is particularly difficult. “If it were nighttime, there’s just more risk,” he told Fox News. “Especially if the pilot wasn’t very experienced. I was going down the coast of New England and did a 180 over the ocean and was like, whoa. It’s pitch black. You can’t see anything.”