Ga. girl hit by airplane on Caspersen Beach in Venice dies

A Georgia girl who was struck by a plane during an emergency landing at Caspersen Beach in Venice has died, officials said Tuesday.
 
9-year-old Oceana Irizarry was walking with her father, 36-year-old Ommy Irizarry, when they both hit by the plane Sunday afternoon. Ommy Irizarry died shortly after the accident.
The 1972 Piper Cherokee lost a wheel, damaged a wing and smashed its propeller shortly after making a distress call about 2:45 p.m. to Venice Municipal Airport. Caspersen Beach is just south of the airport, at the southern tip of the island of Venice.
 
Oceana was airlifted to All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg. 
 
Ommy Irizzary was a Sgt. 1st Class with the US Army, stationed at Ft. Stewart GA.  According to Facebook posts and confirmed by family friends, the Irizarry family was in Venice celebrating their wedding anniversary
 
Sheriff's officials say the pilot radioed the airport that he was having trouble with the plane and was planning to land on the beach because he could not make it to the airport.
 
"He landed on the edge of the water," said Wendy Rose, a sheriff's office spokeswoman.
 
Officials say the pilot was Karl Kokomoor, 57, and the passenger was David Theen, 60, both of nearby Englewood, were not injured.  The plane had taken off from a small grass-strip airport near their homes.  People who live nearby in that neighborhood where airplane hangars are as plentiful as garages say it's a horrible accident, and they feel for everyone involved.
"Its a lot of pressure…engine out," said Don Harrison, a veteran pilot, who's been flying for half a century. "Making a decision on where to land and what ever but as you came down and you noticed that there was someone on the beach, it might be prudent to turn the airplane a fees degrees to miss that person and if it means going in the water, you go in the water, you go in the water."
 
"But not being there, and not knowing the circumstance... I can't second-guess any of this," he said.
 
The National Transportation and Safety Board investigation is underway.
 
The following statement was released Tuesday on behalf of the Irizarry and Power Families:
 
Our precious Oceana has joined her daddy in heaven. She was nine years old. Oceana was a beautiful, intelligent and kind-hearted little girl.  
 
She was a natural artist who loved to learn. She was looking forward to the 4th grade. Ommy, a Sergeant First Class in the Army, was a beloved husband, father, son, brother, friend and soldier. 
 
He lit up the room whenever he entered and was devoted to his family. There are no words to describe the suffering we are experiencing. Their loss is devastating to our family and to everyone who knew them. 
 
Thank you to our many loved ones, friends and strangers for your outpouring of love and prayers. Although they are gone, Ommy and Oceana live on through organ donation. 
 
Forever, they will be in our hearts. To all of those who helped us on the beach and medical personnel, thank you for your efforts to save them.  
 
We will always be grateful to All Children's Hospital for your skilled and loving care of Oceana and our family. 
 
In sorrow, the Irizarry and Power families.
 

 

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