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2 Dead, Including a 14-Year-Old Girl, and 1 Missing After Rental Plane Crashes in Gulf of Mexico

People 12/5/2022 Abigail Adams

Venice Police Department/Facebook © Provided by People Venice Police Department/Facebook

Two people are dead, including a teenager, and another man is missing after a plane crashed into the Gulf of Mexico over the weekend, according to authorities.

The single-engine Piper PA-28 crashed shortly after its 7:30 p.m. takeoff from the Venice Municipal Airport in Florida on Saturday, according to a statement from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), obtained by PEOPLE. 

The trio was returning to St. Petersburg, Fla., that evening when their plane, a Piper Cherokee, crashed into the ocean, according to a statement from the Venice Police Department.

The victims, who are believed to be family, had traveled to Venice for dinner on Saturday in the aircraft they rented out of St. Petersburg, VPD Chief Charlie Thorpe said at a press conference on Monday, via ABC affiliate WFTS-TV.

A 42-year-old man remains missing as of midday Monday, according to Thorpe. A 14-year-old girl is one of the two victims found dead in the Gulf waters.

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An investigation was launched the next day around 10 a.m. after the FAA asked Venice police to check with the airport for the overdue airplane, the VPD said.

Thorpe said there was no mayday call, and that no calls about the crash were made to authorities at the time.

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Recreational boaters found the floating body of an adult woman in the Gulf about 2.5 miles west of Venice Beach that same morning, according to police. Her age has not been provided.

An air crew from the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office spotted the plane's wreckage about a third of a mile offshore in about 15 feet of water, Thorpe said at Monday's press conference.

SCSO divers searched the damaged aircraft and found the teenager inside, according to the police chief.

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The third occupant, a 42-year-old man, is still missing as of midday Monday. Thorpe said the man has been identified as the pilot.

Officials are searching an area about five square miles in size located just south of where the plane was found, Thorpe said on Monday.

An investigation into the crash is underway. The National Transportation Safety Board is in charge of the investigation, according to the FAA.

The U.S. Coast Guard, the Sarasota Police Department, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and the District 12 Medical Examiner's Office are all assisting with the search and the crash scene, the VPD said.

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