Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Public safety

Clearwater man among four killed in plane crash off Bahamas

Matt and Cyra Sokolowski split up in 2008 after 15 years of marriage.

Six years later, they decided to marry a second time. The ceremony was in April at one of their favorite places: a Tampa Bay Lightning game.

"Everything had come full circle. Our family was back together, and everyone was so happy," said Cyra Sokolowski, 40.

But on Monday morning, her husband was killed in a plane crash on his way to a business trip off the coast of the Bahamas.

Matt Sokolowski, 42, of Clearwater was one of four men aboard a Cessna when it crashed about 11 a.m. Monday about 5 miles northwest of Grand Bahama International Airport in Freeport. All on board died.

The Royal Bahamas Police Force is investigating, with assistance from the National Transportation Safety Board, authorities said.

Sokolowski is survived by three sons: Alex, 20, who is in the Marine Corps; Justin, 14; and Todd, 11.

Sokolowski had worked for L & M Solutions Inc., a Largo company that manages a time share resort, for about 20 years. He recently began simultaneously working at Aqua Sun Investments Inc. in Ormond Beach.

His wife said he loved his new job, though he had to commute to Ormond Beach. He also frequently flew in the Aqua Sun company plane.

Sokolowski had always loved flying and had been thinking about getting his pilot's license. He had wanted to join the Air Force when he was young but was held back by hip replacement surgery.

"He loved being able to be in that plane. He loved it," his wife said.

He and his family also loved the Tampa Bay Lightning, and that led them to hold their special day on the Bud Light party deck before the April 1 game that sent the team to the playoffs.

"We had 30 people there, but we like to say we had 16,000," Cyra Sokolowski said.

Players stopped to give the family autographs after they saw Cyra in her long wedding gown and the rest of the family decked out in their blue, silver and white-palette tuxedos.

It could take the family some time to return to the arena, but Cyra Sokolowski said they'll be back.

"Matt would want us to live our lives to the fullest," she said. "(Going to games) brings joy to our lives. We will need those moments of joy more than ever now."

Contact Taylor Goldenstein at [email protected] or (727) 445-4155. Follow @taygoldenstein.

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