Expectant Sarasota mother hoping for miracle as search for fiancé continues following plane crash

Sarasota County

SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Yeni Montoya is doing her best to stay positive as crews 250 miles away from Sarasota search for her husband-to-be, Roman Scarfo.

The 42-year-old vanished after his single-engine plane crashed off the coast of Florida Sunday morning. Montoya is seven months pregnant with their first child.

Scarfo and another man departed from Jack Edwards National Airport in Gulf Shores, Alabama just after nine a.m. on Sunday. They were scheduled to land in Ocala, but diverted to Cross City mid-flight.

“The weather was bad,” said Montoya.”They were flying back and once they got close to Cross City, Florida, they realized they needed to land and they contacted the Cross City airport tower, and the tower lost signal with them right as they were over the water on the Gulf of Mexico shore,” she continued.

Montoya tells 8 Your Side, Scarfo was wrapping up requirements for his pilot’s license, something he’s dreamed of his entire life.

“He always told me his passion was to be a pilot, to finish his pilot license and on his time off, just take me flying and just fly and just have fun like that. That was what made him happy,” said Montoya.

Taylor County Sheriff Wayne Padgett tells 8 On Your Side crews with the sheriff’s office, the local fire department, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission have been searching around the clock for any signs of the two men on board the plane. The plane’s fuselage was pulled from the Gulf of Mexico Tuesday afternoon.

Multiple volunteers joined in on the search efforts including a pilot from Tampa. Nicolas Posada flew up Monday to help with the search efforts. He knows both victims.

“Family members want to know more than just there are pieces of aircraft in the water. To be able to achieve that, we need more help,” said Posada.

The local pilot says more air power would be helpful, especially helicopters. “All day Monday, there was nothing but volunteers in the afternoon after 11 a.m. Aircrafts will have to make circles, there is not a single helicopter that we have seen around here. It surprises me because we are supposed to see the Coast Guard, first responders, emergency responders out here instead of volunteers first and then officials showing up later two or three days later,” said the pilot.

8 On Your Side reached out to the FAA and NTSB regarding the crash. Officials with the NTSB said, ‘the NTSB is investigating this accident. Currently, the wreckage recovery is ongoing’.

The FAA sent 8 On Your Side this statement:

Local authorities notified the FAA yesterday that they discovered the wreckage of a Van’s RV-9 in the Tide Swamp Wildlife Management Area in Taylor County, Fla. Two people were aboard. The FAA issued an Alert Notice (ALNOT) on September 13 to public safety agencies, pilots and airports to alert them about the missing aircraft. The flight departed Jack Edwards Airport in Gulf Shores, Ala., and was headed to Ocala International Airport in Florida. The FAA and NTSB will investigate. Neither agency identifies people involved in aircraft accidents. The FAA will release the aircraft tail number once investigators verify it at the scene. The NTSB will be in charge of the investigation and all updates.

Montoya admits communication has been limited since the crash happened Sunday morning. Most of the information she received early on was from volunteers.

“I am hoping at this point that they find them. Any news…” she said with tears in her eyes. “I keep hoping for the best. I understand that we could hear anything bad, but I am hoping that they could find him finally with the help and give me some news,” she continued.

Montoya says she wants information and closure. “The main concern with my family is my pregnancy because they are trying to keep me as healthy as possible and they know that all of this stress and the more it elongates, the more my health deteriorates,” said the expectant mother.

“I want to say thank you to the crew that is helping. It is hard because we are not there, but I want to say thank you. Please keep searching and if you need help, if you are lacking boats, if you are lacking more help from the air, please ask for it. If we can send more volunteers, more friends, and they need to allow it, please let them come and help so we can get some closure,” said Montoya.

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