4 die after 2 small planes crash mid-air in Winter Haven
All four people aboard two small planes that collided midair Tuesday were killed, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office in Florida said.
The crash happened over Lake Hartridge in Winter Haven, about 45 miles southwest of Orlando.
A Piper J-3 Cub seaplane operated by Jack Brown’s Seaplane Base in Winter Haven and a Cherokee Piper 161 fixed wing plane operated by Sunrise Aviation in Ormond Beach on behalf of Polk State College were involved in the crash, authorities said.
The sheriff’s office has identified the four crash victims:
• Faith Irene Baker, 24, of Winter Haven, was a pilot and flight instructor with Sunrise Aviation. Baker was aboard the Cherokee Piper 161.
• Zachary Jean Mace, 19, of Winter Haven, was a student at Polk State College. Mace was aboard the Cherokee Piper 161.
• Randall Elbert Crawford, 67, of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, was aboard the Piper J-3 Cub.
• Louis C. Defazio, 78 of Fredricksburg, Texas, was in the Piper J-3 Cub airplane.
“My heart goes out to the families and friends of those who were killed in today’s crash,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said.
One plane was found partially submerged in Lake Hartridge, and the second plane was completely submerged – “21 feet underwater … on the bottom,” said Steve Lester, chief of staff for the sheriff’s office.
The cause of the midair crash is unclear. The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration will investigate, Judd said.
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