SARASOTA, FL - A father was killed and his 9-year-old daughter critically injured Sunday while walking along a Florida beach when a small plane crash landed on the Gulf Coast only feet from the surf, authorities said.
Wendy Rose, a spokeswoman for the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office, said the pilot and his only passenger weren't hurt when the Piper aircraft lost power and touched down Sunday afternoon on a beach in Venice, Florida, as the two from Georgia were walking along the sand.
"A man and one of his children who were walking on the beach were apparently injured by the plane," said Rose, adding the 36-year-old man from Georgia was later pronounced dead.
She said events began unfolding about 2:45 p.m. Sunday when the Venice airport received a distress call that the plane was unable to return 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.
She said the girl was airlifted to a children's hospital where she was in critical condition. Details of her injuries weren't immediately released
New photos and video footage from the beach showed the Piper Cherokee, its nose pointed down and nearly touching white sands only feet from what appeared to be a gentle lapping surf. The left wing appeared to extend slightly over the water's edge. A police boat was anchored nearby and a law enforcement officer stood beside the aircraft. Bystanders gawked from a distance.
Kathleen Bergen, a spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration, told The Associated Press in an email that the FAA 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.
Rose later released a statement identifying the dead man as 36-year-old Ommy Irizarry and the injured girl as Oceana Irizarry, 9. Rose said that while they were from Georgia, it wasn't immediately known exactly where they were from in the neighboring state.
The statement said 57-year-old Karl Kokomoor was the pilot and his passenger was David Theen, 60, both of Englewood, Florida.