A father from Georgia was killed and his 9-year-old daughter critically injured while walking along Venice’s Caspersen Beach when a small plane crash landed Sunday on only feet from the surf, Sarasota County authorities said.
Wendy Rose, a spokeswoman for the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office, said the pilot and his passenger weren’t hurt when the Piper aircraft lost power and touched down Sunday afternoon.
“A man and one of his children who were walking on the beach were apparently injured by the plane,” said Rose, adding the man was later pronounced dead.
The man who died was identified as 36-year-old Ommy Irizarry. His daughter, Oceana, was taken by BayFlite to All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg and was listed in critical condition. Both are from Georgia, but officials did not provide a city.
The were hit by the plane or debris, officials said.
The pilot was identified as 57-year-old Karl Kokomoor and his passenger as 60-year-old David Theen, both of Englewood.
Rose said events began unfolding about 2:45 p.m. Sunday when the Venice Municipal Airport received a distress call that the plane couldn’t make it back to the airport.
“They were contacted by a pilot whose small plane was in distress. He knew he couldn’t make it back to the airport and was going to try to land on the beach. And he did land at the edge of the water on the beach,” Rose said.
Photos and video footage taken at the scene showed the Piper Cherokee, its nose pointed down and nearly touching white sands only feet from a gentle lapping surf. The left wing appeared to extend over the water’s edge. A police boat was anchored nearby and a law enforcement officer stood close by. Bystanders gawked from a distance.
Kathleen Bergen, a spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration, said the agency was investigating. She said the plane reportedly lost power and landed on the sand near Caspersen Beach in Venice but she had no further details as of Sunday evening.
National Transportation and Safety Board investigators have headed to the site.
“We don’t know exactly what caused the crash but the NTSB is en route and will investigate,” added Rose, a community affairs manager for the sheriff’s office.