2 men and 2 women found dead in tragic plane crash off Florida's Gulf Coast
VENICE, FLORIDA: In a devastating turn of events, on April 6, 2023, a small Piper PA-32R plane crashed into the Gulf of Mexico, claiming the lives of four individuals. William Jeffrey Lumpkin, 64, who was piloting the plane, Patricia Lumpkin, 68, Ricky Joe Beaver, 60, and Elizabeth Anne Beaver, 57, were identified as the victims.
The four passengers had just taken off from Venice Airport when the plane crashed west of the city's fishing pier. After witnessing the alarming incident, several individuals on the pier promptly dialed 911 for assistance.
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In a similar incident off the coast of Venice, a family of three, comprising of a couple and their daughter, lost their lives in a plane crash last December. Venice police Captain Andy Leisenring revealed to Associated Press that it was "unusual" to have two plane crashes occur in a short period of time after a similar tragedy in December claimed the lives of a family of three off the same coast.
'We will be conducting a thorough investigation'
However, it was too early to determine whether or not there was a connection between the two incidents. Leisenring added, "We will be conducting a thorough investigation to find out what caused the crash and if there is anything we can do to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future."
The plane was submerged under 23 feet of water
The submerged plane was located at a depth of 23 feet and was found shortly before noon on April 7. Leisenring said in a press conference that, “we were unable to deploy a dive team until we had daylight.” Dives teams were able to recover the bodies of Jeffrey and Joe first and later crews located the bodies of the two female passengers. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Sarasota Sheriff's Office, and the US Coast Guard continued to search the debris field, adding to the somber atmosphere of the situation.
The weather at the time of the crash was calm
Initially, as per a statement to FOX News the Federal Aviation Administration said there were only two people on board the single-engine plane. However, police continued to search the debris with the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office having divers in the water. The weather as per reports at the time of the crash was calm, with temperatures near 80 degrees.
Our Marine Patrol officers spent overnight assisting @VenicePoliceFL, @CityofVeniceFL and @SarasotaSheriff following a plane crash near the Venice Fishing Pier. The crash happened Wednesday evening around 9:30 p.m. pic.twitter.com/BBaI8KxwzW— Sarasota Police Department (@SarasotaPD) April 6, 2023
'We heard a plane... coming too low'
"We heard a plane... coming too low," a server at Fins, a restaurant on the pier, told ABC7, adding that the aircraft made a "sharp turn to the right, and then it went behind the pier. We saw a flash of light come out and that’s all we could see," the worker added. "It's a tragedy that highlights the need for strict safety measures in the aviation industry. Our hearts go out to the families and friends of the victims" said Leisenring.