Tuesday afternoon, two small planes crashed into each other over a lake in central Florida. All four people in the planes died.
The bodies were found, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said Tuesday night. He said –
“It is no longer a search and rescue operation, but a recovery operation.”
He said that one of the planes was a Cherokee Piper 161 with Faith Irene Baker, 24, a pilot and flight instructor for Sunrise Aviation, and Zachary Jean Mace, 19, a student at Polk State College, on board.
Deputies told the CBS Orlando affiliate WKMG-TV that it was being run for the college and was a fixed-wing aircraft.
Randall Elbert Crawford, 67, of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and one other person were on the other plane, which Judd said was a Piper J-3 Cub.
The J-3 is a plane that can land on water. WKMG said it was run by Jack Brown’s Seaplane Base in Winter Haven, citing deputies once more. He said –
“Deputies are working to confirm the identity of a fourth deceased person. … Once a positive identification has been made, and next of kin notification has been made, we will release the identity.”
“My heart goes out to the families and friends of those who were killed in today’s crash.”
“The NTSB and FAA will be investigating the cause and circumstances of the collision. Please keep the families in your prayers during this difficult and stressful time.”
WTSP-TV, a CBS station in Tampa says that Polk State College said something about the deaths of Baker and Mace. Polk State President Angela Garcia Falconetti said –
“Our Polk State College family is devastated by this tragedy.”
“We extend our deepest condolences to their families, friends, and colleagues.”
The school said that its students will be able to get help on campus, over the phone, and online. Earlier, deputies said they didn’t know where the planes took off or what caused the crash.
The planes crashed into Lake Hartridge in Winter Haven, which is right south of the Winter Haven Regional Airport. About 40 miles south of Orlando is Winter Haven.
Polk County Sheriff’s Office Chief of Staff Steve Lester said that witnesses said they saw the planes crash into each other and then fall right into the water.
Officials said that one plane’s wing was sticking out of the water and that the other plane was about 21 feet below the surface.