VENICE, Fla. – A small plane crash-landed on a remote Florida Gulf Coast beach, killing a Georgia man and his daughter as they walked along the shore.
The 1972 Piper Cherokee lost a wheel, damaged a wing and smashed its propeller shortly after making a distress call about 2:45 p.m. Sunday to Venice Municipal Airport. Caspersen Beach is just south of the airport, at the southern tip of the island of Venice.
The Sarasota County Sheriff's Office identified the victims as 36-year-old Ommy Irizarry and his daughter Oceana, 9. They said a woman who was with the group was treated for cardiac arrest at Venice Regional Bayfront Health. They did not release her name or relationship to Irizarry and his daughter.
Puerto Rican newspaper El Nuevo Dia is reporting that Irizarry is from Mayaguez but was working as an Army sergeant at Fort Stewart base in Georgia. The newspaper is also reporting that the little girl, who had been taken to the hospital in critical condition, has died.
On Sunday, Irizarry celebrated his ninth wedding anniversary.
"Thank you for being with me through thick and thin. I love you with all my heart, mi Roma," he wrote in a Facebook post on Sunday.
Officials told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune the victims were either hit by the plane or its debris.
Irizarry died at the scene. His daughter was airlifted to All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg. Officials have not released further information about the victims, including the city in Georgia where they lived.
Sheriff's officials say the pilot radioed the airport that he was having trouble with the plane and was planning to land on the beach because he could not make it to the airport.
"He landed on the edge of the water," said Wendy Rose, a sheriff's office spokeswoman.
Officials say the pilot was Karl Kokomoor, 57, and the passenger was David Theen, 60, both of nearby Englewood, were not injured.