Woman and child found dead after plane crashes in Gulf of Mexico

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VENICE, Fla. — The bodies of two people, including a child, were found Sunday in the Gulf of Mexico inside the wreckage of a rented Piper Cherokee airplane, authorities said.

Venice Police confirmed the wreckage had been spotted about 2 p.m. from the air in the Gulf, about one-third of a mile directly west of the airport south of Tampa. 

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, approximately 2.5 miles west of Venice Beach, according to a police department news release. 

Searchers from several agencies began looking for any potential people from plane and any wreckage. After the plane was found, divers from the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office located a deceased juvenile in the plane’s passenger area, the police release stated.

Officials believe that a male pilot or passenger was also in the plane during the flight, but he had not been located with the wreckage late Sunday afternoon.

Just after 2 p.m. Sunday, the missing Piper Cherokee was located.

Officers from the Venice Police, Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office and Sarasota Police worked in concert with the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission and the U.S. Coast Guard Sunday, to search for a downed aircraft in the Gulf of Mexico, west of the Venice Municipal Airport.

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Search efforts for the missing male occupant were to continue until sunset Sunday and resume Monday, as conditions allow.

The investigation is still active and Venice Police has not released information on the occupants, pending family notifications and clearance from other involved agencies, including the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board.

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.

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