Gulf of Mexico airplane crash kills 2, pilot still missing

Published 9:20 pm Monday, December 5, 2022

Authorities were searching Monday for the pilot of a small airplane that crashed into the Gulf of Mexico off the Florida coast, with two people confirmed dead.

Authorities in Venice, Florida, said they were looking for a 42-year-old man in an area offshore from the Venice Municipal Airport. The single-engine Piper Cherokee was reported overdue Saturday when it did not return to its origin airport in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Police Chief Charlie Thorpe told reporters on Monday that recreational boaters found the body of a woman floating about 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) west of the Venice shore. A 14-year-old girl’s body was found in the wreckage of the aircraft.

All three people were family members who had planned a dinner in Venice before returning to St. Petersburg, Thorpe said.

“The search is continuing for the male,” the chief said. “We are still working on it extensively.”

It’s not yet clear what caused the plane to crash, he added.

The county sheriff’s office, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Sarasota Police Department, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the District 12 Medical Examiner’s Office and the National Transportation Safety Board were involved in the investigation.