PORT RICHEY, Fla. – The Coast Guard ended its search Thursday for five people aboard a small plane that crashed off Florida's Gulf Coast, saying it believes all are dead.
The search ended 24 hours after the Coast Guard began looking for a twin-engine Cessna that dropped off the radar en route to Tampa on Wednesday afternoon. Rescuers had searched throughout the night for survivors, finding human remains among a 2-mile debris field. Petty Officer Rob Simpson described it as a "fairly catastrophic wreck."
The remains were taken to the Pinellas County Medical Examiner's Office for identification. Authorities could not say whether remains from all five people were found.
The plane was flying from McKinney, Texas, to Tampa when it went down about 20 miles west of Port Richey.
The Federal Aviation Administration said air traffic controllers in Jacksonville lost radio and radar contact with the plane at 1:52 p.m. after it reported turbulence. A forecaster at the National Weather Service said there were thunderstorms and lightning in the area at the time, which can create turbulence.
A statement from Quality Powder Coating LP said Thursday that that two of its employees and members of their families were on board the plane. The company said officials have not gotten confirmation from the NTSB on the status of those on the plane, who included company president Roland Schurrer and company pilot and marketing representative Steve Barrows.
Carrollton-based Quality Powder Coating is an industrial powder coating and finishing company. Its Web site says powder coating is mostly used for coating metals and aluminum.