VENICE, Fla. (WFLA) — A mother and her child were found dead in the search for a single-engine plane that crashed in the Gulf of Mexico after leaving Venice.
The Federal Aviation Administration said the aircraft left the Venice Municipal Airport around 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Officials said shortly after, it crashed into the gulf.
Authorities began investigating on Sunday morning after the plane failed to return to St. Petersburg. It was later found about 1/3 of a mile into the ocean, directly west of the airport.
The FAA said three people were believed to have been on board the rented Piper Cherokee. The Venice Police Department identified the occupants as a child, who divers found dead inside the plane, and a man who is still missing.
Venice police said at around the same time they began investigating, recreational divers found a dead woman floating in the water. Police said she was on board the plane when it crashed.
Authorities said they know who was believed to have been onboard the plane when it crashed, but are waiting for family to be notified and clearance from federal agencies before releasing that information.
Venice police said they will continue searching for the missing father until sundown and then resume their search in the morning as conditions allow.
J.P. Dice – a commercial pilot and flight instructor – told News Channel 8 the National Transportation Safety Board will leave no stone unturned when investigating what caused the crash.
“They are going to take the airplane, they are going to take the wreckage and they are going to look at every single component of that airplane, anything from the flight control to the engine,” Price said. “They are going to look at the avionics, the airplanes electronics. They are going to take a look at the pilot, the pilots experience, the pilots background, they are going to take a look at the weather conditions.”
The U.S. Coast Guard, Sarasota Sheriff’s Office, Sarasota Police Department, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and District 12 Medical Examiner’s Office are also assisting in the investigation.
Correction: The FAA initially said the plane departed from the Venice Municipal Airport Sunday morning, but later said the plane actually left around 7:30 p.m. Saturday