4 Dead After 2 Small Planes Collide in Florida and Submerge Underwater

"It is no longer a search and rescue operation, but a recovery operation," the Polk County Sheriff's Office shared in an update Tuesday night

An in-air collision involving two small planes in Florida has left all of its passengers dead.

The crash between a Piper J-3 Cub seaplane and a Cherokee Piper 161 fixed-wing plane occurred over Lake Hartridge, near the city of Winter Haven, the Polk County Sheriff's Office shared in a news release Tuesday.

PSCO Chief of Staff Steve Lester shared with The Ledger that a dive team went out on the lake around 4:35 p.m. — after first receiving a call about the incident around 2:04 p.m. — and discovered one partially submerged plane's wingtip. At the time, the other aircraft was about 21 feet underwater.

Through the initial investigation, responders found the bodies of all four passengers on the aircrafts at the time of the crash.

"All four located persons are the only occupants of the planes. It is no longer a search and rescue operation, but a recovery operation," shared the PCSO in an update Tuesday night.

The victims include Faith Irene Baker, 24, of Winter Haven, who was a pilot and flight instructor with Sunrise Aviation; and Zachary Jean Mace, 19, of Winter Haven, who was a Polk State College student in the same Cherokee Piper 161 plane.

Randall Elbert Crawford, 67, from Carlisle, Pennsylvania, was flying on the Piper J-3 Cub. Deputies are working to confirm the identity of the fourth deceased person, who was also on the same flight as Crawford.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lRfS_ODh730 2 planes collide near Winter Haven Regional Airport, police say WFLA News Channel 8 582K subscribers Subscribe 237 Share Download 20,774 views Mar 7, 2023 Rescue crews were called to Winter Haven Regional Airport Tuesday after two planes collided with each other.
WFLA News Channel 8

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

"My heart goes out to the families and friends of those who were killed in today's crash. The NTSB and FAA will be investigating the cause and circumstances of the collision. Please keep the families in your prayers during this difficult and stressful time," added PCSO Sheriff Grady Judd in Tuesday night's update.

The Federal Aviation Administration did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

Related Articles