Airplane crash in Gulf of Mexico off Florida coast leaves woman, girl dead

VENICE, Fla. – A private airplane crashed into the Gulf of Mexico off the Florida coast Saturday night, with two people confirmed dead as authorities searched for a third person believed to have been on the flight, police said.

Authorities in Venice, Florida, initiated a search Sunday after 10 a.m. following a Federal Aviation Administration inquiry to the Venice Municipal Airport about an overdue single-engine Piper Cherokee that had not returned to its origin airport in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Around the same time, recreational boaters found the body of a woman floating about 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) west of the Venice shore, city of Venice spokesperson Lorraine Anderson said in a statement.

Divers from the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office located the wreckage of the rented airplane around 2 p.m. about a third of a mile offshore, directly west of the Venice airport, Anderson said.

Rescuers found a deceased girl in the plane’s passenger area. A third person, believed to be a male who was the pilot or a passenger, remained missing Sunday, Anderson said.

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, Anderson said.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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