VENICE, Fla. (WFLA) — The Venice Police Department identified the victims in a plane crash in the Gulf of Mexico as a family from St. Petersburg Tuesday morning.
Police said the victims were pilot Christian Kath, 42; his wife Misty Kath, 43; and their daughter Lily, 12. The family previously lived in Australia before living in St. Petersburg. Shorecrest Preparatory School confirmed Lily was a student there.
The family’s rented Piper Cherokee crashed after leaving the Venice Municipal Airport Saturday evening, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. Venice Police Chief Charlie Thorpe said in a Monday press conference that the aircraft did not signal a mayday.
Recreational divers found the body of Misty Kath around the time the search for the family’s plane began. Rescue divers later found the body of Lily Kath Sunday after discovering the aircraft 15 feet underwater off the coast of Venice.
The search for Christian Kath has been expanded area-wise, but authorities have scaled back their assets, according to Venice police. According to his Facebook page, Christian had wanted to fly since the age of 8. He began taking flying lessons last December and soloed his first flight in late March. The Kath family leaves behind another daughter who was not on the plane on Saturday.
“Boaters from Sarasota Bay south to Gasparilla are requested to be aware of the possibility of a body or small aircraft debris floating in this area,” the police department said. “Boaters who observe anything should immediately contact the Coast Guard using marine radio on channel 16.”
Divers are still searching the crash area around one-third of a mile offshore. Venice police said they are still in contact with the victims’ relatives during their investigation.
The National Transportation Safety Board explained the process:
“Part of the investigation will be to request radar data, weather information, maintenance records and the pilot’s medical records. NTSB investigators will look at the human, machine and environment as the outline of the investigation. The preliminary report, which includes all the factual information learned to date, is expected to publish 15 days after the accident.”
The NTSB said the aircraft wreckage is being transported to a secure facility in Jacksonville, Florida for further examination.