VENICE, Fla. (WFLA) — 911 calls were released Friday after two men and two women were killed when a single-engine aircraft crashed into the Gulf of Mexico near Venice Wednesday night.
A Piper PA-32R aircraft crashed about a half-mile off the Venice Fishing Pier after it took off from Venice Municipal Airport around 9:38 p.m., according to authorities.
Crews recovered the bodies of 64-year-old pilot William Jeffrey Lumpkin, and 60-year-old Ricky Joe Beaver after the crash.
The next day, divers said they located the main portion of the aircraft as well as the bodies of 68-year-old Patricia Ann Lumpkin, and 57-year-old Elizabethe Anne Beaver.
Authorities said the plane was under 23 feet of water.
Once the plane crashed into the water, several people called 911. Many of them said they were at Sharky’s when it happened.
“I’m at the pier at Sharky’s and a plane just took off and crashed in the water,” one caller said. “There was no fire, no explosion. It just went down, on an angle, like it was banking. It just went down.”
A caller who said he was a pilot told 911 operators that the pilot’s engine sounded normal.
“He was just losing a lot of altitude. He crashed pretty hard. It was not a smooth landing by any means,” the caller said.
When the 911 operator asked if the callers could see anything, many of them reported that it was too dark.
“There’s no way you could see people with these lighting conditions,” a caller said.
Venice Police Captain Andy Leisenring said the four flew from an airport in St. Petersburg to the Venice Municipal Airport Wednesday around 5 p.m. The group paid a parking fee at the airport and then enjoyed dinner with friends at a restaurant.
Shortly after they took off from Venice to return to St. Petersburg, the plane crashed.
The director of the Venice Airport said the weather was clear at take off and there were no issues at the airport.
It will now be up to the NTSB to investigate this crash and determine the cause.