Friday, February 23, 2018
Public safety

Plane crash kills man, injures daughter near Venice Beach (video)

SARASOTA — A father was killed and his daughter seriously injured while walking along a Florida beach when a small plane crash landed Sunday 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, Karl Kokomoor, 57, of Englewood, and his only passenger, David Theen, 60, also of Englewood, weren't hurt when the Piper aircraft lost power and touched down Sunday afternoon near Venice Beach.

"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.

Killed in the accident was Ommy Irizarry, 36, authorities said. His daughter, Oceana Irizarry, 9, was injured and airlifted to bay area hospital.

She said events began unfolding about 2:45 p.m. Sunday when the Venice 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.

She said the girl was airlifted to a children's hospital where she was believed to be in critical condition. The identities of those involved were not immediately released.

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, 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.

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