The plane had just taken off from Venice Airport when it crashed into the Gulf of Mexico west of the city’s fishing pier just after 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, Venice police said in a news conference.
Several people on the pier saw the plane crash and called 911, Venice police Capt. Andy Leisenring said. In addition video footage from the airport and the pier will be reviewed and turned over to the National Transportation Safety Board, which is conducting an investigation, he said.
Leisenring said police “were unable to deploy a dive team until we had daylight.” The plane — a Piper PA-32R — was spotted just before noon under about 23 feet of water, he said. Crews also found the bodies of the two female passengers.
AP says authorities identified the victims as William Jeffrey Lumpkin, 64, who was piloting the plane, Patricia Lumpkin, 68, Ricky Joe Beaver, 60, and Elizabeth Anne Beaver, 57. The Lumpkins were from Fishers, Indiana, and the Beavers were from Noblesville, Indiana. The four were the only passengers of the plane, police said.