Young Florida girl orphaned after her entire family died in plane crash at sea while she was at a sleepover

Young Florida girl orphaned after her entire family died in plane crash at sea while she was at a sleepover
Christian Kath, his wife Misty and eldest daughter Lily (R) died in a plane crash Saturday, December 3 while his youngest daughter was at a sleepover (ShaneBattisTV/Twitter; chris.kath.52/Facebook)

ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA: A young girl lost her entire family after their plane crashed into the sea while she was at a sleepover.

Christian Kath, 42, a newly-trained pilot, was flying a light aircraft alongside his wife Misty, 43, and eldest daughter Lily, 12, when the plane plunged into the water off the coast of Florida on Saturday, December 3. The family, who had recently moved to St Petersburg from Australia, had reportedly been on a trip to the nearby city of Venice for dinner and were on their way back when the tragedy struck. Christian and Misty's youngest daughter Harper, whose age is unclear, was staying over at her friend's house at the time. 

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The New York Post reported how the family had rented a single-engine Piper Cherokee for the doomed trip. According to FAA records, Kath was a relatively novice pilot who had earned his private license on July 31. The father-of-two gushed about completing his first solo flight on Facebook earlier in 2022. “I flew solo for the first time today! Felt so proud to finally achieve something I’ve been wanting to do since I was 8 years old,” he wrote in March, adding that he had been taking lessons since December 2021 and was about halfway through his quest to earn his PPL. “Thanks for putting up with my early morning lessons and late-night studying Misty Kath; it will all feel worthwhile when we can fly to the Keys for a weekend away with Lily and Harper soon,” he added. His wife replied to the post, writing, “So, so proud of you!!! I cannot wait for all our flying adventures.”

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According to FAA records, the single-engine craft crashed into the water shortly after taking off from Venice Municipal Airport en route to Albert Whitted Airport in St Petersburg. Venice police said the bodies of Misty and Lily were recovered Sunday, December 4. The mother's body was located by recreational boaters floating about 2.5 miles west of Venice Beach. The body of Lily, a student at Shorecrest Preparatory School in St Petersburg, was later recovered by divers from the submerged wreckage, per the Post.

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That said, Christian's body was still missing at the time of publication as emergency crew continue to search. "After consultation with the Coast Guard, the search area for the missing pilot in the Gulf has been expanded area-wise, but assets have been scaled back," Venice police tweeted, adding, "Boaters from Sarasota Bay south to Gasparilla should be aware of the possibility of a body or small aircraft debris floating."

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Venice Municipal Airport Director Mark Cervasio told WWSB, “Obviously when you lose one of your own it hurts." Gregory Haman, director of Flight Operations for Agape Flights, also responded to the tragedy. “I got a family and a small airplane, two boys of my own, a lot of times we’ll fly to St Petersburg for dinner,” Haman, an experienced pilot himself, told the outlet. “My heart breaks on multiple levels both as a pilot, as a dad, and as a husband. It’s a sad thing, it’s a tragic thing anytime you have a loss of life, for me, it definitely hits close to home,” he added.

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Speculating on what may have led to the tragic accident, Haman said, “Loss of power, I understand that it was after dark, depending on the experience level of the pilot. A lot of times when you’re taking off over the Gulf at night there is zero reference to the horizon, especially on a dark night, that could’ve played a possibility.”

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