A small plane that crash-landed on a Florida beach, killing two people walking in the water, was not making any engine noise as it descended over groups of people the pilot was trying to avoid, federal investigators said in a report released Thursday.
The plane had been flying from Englewood to Venice when its engine lost power over the water after 10 to 15 minutes in the air, according to the report by the National Transportation Safety Board. The pilot declared an emergency on the radio and began looking for a place to land.
Karl Kokomoor was concerned that his plane would flip over if he landed in deep water, and he attempted to navigate around groups of people along the beach, NTSB investigators said.
"He then aimed for a spot where he thought there were no people, and landed in the water near the shoreline," investigators said.
Ommy Irizarry and his 9-year-old daughter Oceana, both of Fort Stewart, Georgia, were struck by the 1976 Piper aircraft as they walked July 27 in shallow water along Caspersen Beach in Venice. The father died at the scene, and Oceana died at a hospital two days later.
Kokomoor and his passenger were not injured. They learned that the plane had struck Irizarry and his daughter only after a woman shouted to them that she needed a cell phone to call for help, investigators said.
One witness told Venice police that the plane passed directly overhead with no noise from the engine and little movement from its propeller, according to the NTSB report. Other witnesses also said the engine was not running as the plane descended to the beach.
Irizarry's wife and son told investigators that they saw the plane fly in very low, but they did not see it strike the victims, who were pulled from about 4 feet of water by friends and relatives.
Kokomoor told investigators that he had not flown the plane in the previous three-and-a-half months before the crash. Investigators inspecting the wreckage found nothing abnormal about the plane's fuel supply lines, vent system or carburetor, and the engine started even with a bent propeller, the report said.
A final NTSB report on the crash could take over a year to complete.