The bodies of two men and two women have been recovered after a small plane crashed on Florida’s Gulf Coast, police said Thursday.
The plane crashed into the Gulf of Mexico west of the city’s fishing pier just after 9:30 p.m. Wednesday after taking off from Venice Airport. venice police said at a press conference.
Venice Police Capt. Andy Leisenring said several people on the pier saw the crash and called 911. In addition, video footage from airports and terminals will be reviewed and handed over to the National Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating, he said.
Police “were not able to deploy the dive team until dawn,” Leisenring said. The plane, a Piper PA-32R, was found just before noon in about 23 feet of water, he said. Crews also found the bodies of two female passengers.
Authorities identified those killed as William Jeffrey Lumpkin, 64, Patricia Lumpkin, 68, Ricky Joe Beaver, 60, and Elizabeth Anne, 57, who piloted the plane Beaver. Indiana. The four were the only passengers on the plane, police said.
The two couples left St. Petersburg around 5 p.m. on Wednesday and flew to Venice, Leisenring said. They parked the plane at the airport and had dinner with friends at a restaurant on the pier.They returned to the airport just after 9pm and crashed shortly after 9.30pm
Crews from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the Sarasota Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Coast Guard continued to search the debris field Thursday morning.
The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board have been notified.
Venice is about 58 miles (93 kilometers) south of St. Petersburg on Florida’s Gulf Coast.
In December, a family of three – a couple and their daughter – were killed in a similar accident near Venice.
Leisenring called it “unusual” that two plane crashes occurred in such a short period of time, but said it was too early to say whether they were linked.