VENICE – The victims of a small plane crash into the Gulf of Mexico over the weekend off the coast of Venice were a family that had flown to the city for dinner, Venice Police Chief Charlie Thorpe said Monday.
The bodies of two family members, and the wreckage of their rented Piper Cherokee airplane were found Sunday west in the Gulf west of the Venice Municipal Airport. A 42-year-old man who was the pilot of the aircraft remained missing and a search covering five square miles was underway.
Thorpe spoke at a press conference at the airport Monday. The family members' names were not released.
The Piper Cherokee was found in the water about one-third of a mile from the airport Sunday afternoon. Salvage efforts are underway.
The body of the pilot's wife, who was 43, was found by recreational divers Sunday morning about 2 1/2 miles offshore. The body of their 12-year-old daughter had been recovered Sunday by divers from the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office.
The plane was found a few hours after the Federal Aviation Administration called Venice Police to check with Venice Airport for an overdue airplane that had not returned Saturday night to the airport it had left in St. Petersburg.
At about the time of the FAA inquiry Sunday, recreational boaters reported finding a deceased woman floating in the Gulf, according to a police department news release.
Searchers from several agencies began looking for any potential people from plane and any wreckage.
Search efforts for the missing man continued until sunset Sunday and resumed Monday.
Search and crash scene assistance is ongoing from the Sheriff’s Office, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Sarasota Police Department, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and the District 12 Medical Examiner’s Office.
This article originally appeared on Sarasota Herald-Tribune: FAA and Venice, Florida crew search Gulf of Mexico after plane crash