HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – Authorities believe two small planes collided in midair above the Florida Everglades during the weekend and they were searching Sunday for four people presumed dead.
The planes' wreckage was spotted Sunday morning about 25 miles west of Fort Lauderdale after the planes took off from Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood airports on Saturday afternoon. But no bodies had been found by Sunday night in the swampy area accessible only by airboat.
Each plane was carrying two occupants on training flights from a local flight school, the Broward County Sheriff's Department said in a statement.
Family members reported them missing and local authorities found the wreckage Sunday morning, FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash.
The two aircraft, a single-engine Cessna 172 and a twin-engine Piper PA-44 Seminole, were operating under Visual Flight Rules, the sheriff's department said. That means they were not under air traffic control and had responsibility for avoiding other airplanes in the airspace.
Authorities have not identified the presumed victims, but The Aspen (Colo.) Times reported that Bryan Sax, 37, of Aspen was among those missing.
The owner of the Aspen bar where Sax worked told The Associated Press that he learned about the crash from Sax's family.
"He was one of my closest friends," Jimmy Yeager said. "He's just one of those guys who lights up life. He left a trail of happy people. He's a loving father and was fatherly and loving to all people," Yeager told The Associated Press. Yeager said Sax has two daughters and a stepson.