VENICE, Fla. (WFLA) — Authorities continue to search for the pilot of a small aircraft that crashed off the Florida coast Saturday with two other passengers on board.
According to Venice Police Chief Charlie Thorpe, a small single-engine Piper Cherokee aircraft, rented and piloted by a 42-year-old man left the Venice Municipal Airport at 7:30 p.m. Saturday with two other family members on board.
The aircraft never returned.
U.S. Coast Guard search and rescue crews along with local first responders searched for hours over the weekend before finding the aircraft about one-third of a mile into the ocean, just west of the airport. Authorities said the aircraft was about 15 feet underwater.
Around the same time of the crash investigation, recreational divers found the body of a woman who police later confirmed was related to the pilot. Search and rescue divers later found the body of a 12-year-old girl who was also related to the pilot. Authorities did not elaborate on their relationship.
As of the latest information, the 42-year-old pilot is still missing.
“The search area is encompassing at least a five square mile search area just south of where the aircraft was found yesterday,” Thorpe said. “A lot of that is based off of the time, tides, currents, conditions, all that kind of stuff.”
Thorpe said the pilot did not signal a mayday.
The National Transportation Safety Board the plane’s wreckage would be taken to a warehouse in Jacksonville for examination after recovery.
Additional information was not released.