5 Dead, Small Plane Crashes in Florida’s Lake Okeechobee

March 9, 2019 Updated: March 9, 2019

PAHOKEE, Florida—Authorities say five people are dead after a small plane crashed in Florida’s Lake Okeechobee.

A Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office news release says marine unit deputies and rescue workers recovered the bodies from the plane’s fuselage several hours after the Friday afternoon, March 8, crash.

Officials say the twin-engine Piper aircraft went down about 400 yards from the giant lake’s southeast shore, just north of the Pahokee Airport.

Records show the plane had taken off from Tampa International Airport.

The sheriff’s office is investigating the deaths. The victims weren’t immediately identified.

The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash.

Last week, Friday, March 1, another small plane crashed into a building in Fort Lauderdale, along a Florida beach, killing the pilot in a heavily trafficked tourist area.

Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Stephan Gollan told reporters the plane hit an 18-story condominium building just before noon and then fell several floors onto an outdoor pool deck. He said the pilot was killed, but no other injuries were reported. The building’s residents were evacuated.

Television shots show the yellow, single-engine Piper PA-25 crumpled with its wings snapped off.

Crashed Florida small plane
A small banner plane crashed into a building along a Florida beach on March 1, 2019. (Screenshot/Fox)

The pilot’s name was not released. The plane’s markings show it is owned by Aerial Banners Inc. The company’s website says it has more than 50 planes at locations around the country, including Miami, Fort Lauderdale, New York City, Los Angeles, Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, Seattle, and Alaska.

The company’s Fort Lauderdale office declined comment. The National Transportation Safety Board said it is investigating.

Vacationer Jim McHugh of New York City told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel he was on the beach with his wife when the plane flew past heading north. He said the engine was not sputtering, but the plane banked hard to the left toward the tall buildings that line the area. He said he realized the plane was too low and told his wife it was going to crash just before it did.

“It’s a shame the poor guy didn’t bank to the right and to the water,” he told the paper.

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