A small plane crash-landed on Caspersen Beach in Venice Sunday afternoon, killing a Georgia man and critically injuring his 9-year-old daughter as they walked along the shore.
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. Sunday to Venice Municipal Airport. Caspersen Beach is just south of the airport, at the southern tip of the island of Venice.
The Sarasota County Sheriff's Office identified the victims as 36-year-old Ommy Irizarry and his daughter Oceana. They said a woman who was with the group was treated for cardiac arrest at Venice Regional Bayfront Health. They did not release her name or relationship to Irizarry and his daughter.
Irizarry died at the scene. His daughter was airlifted to All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg. Officials have not released further information about the victims,other than Irizzary was a Sgt. 1st Class with the US Army , stationed at Ft. Stewart GA. We have learned from Facebook posts -- confirmed by family friends -- that 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."
The National Transportation and Safety Board investigation is underway as the plane is dismantled and removed from the sand.