Coast Guard continues search for 2 in Gulf of Mexico

YANKEETOWN, Fla. – The Coast Guard is continuing the search for two people in the water after a private aircraft crashed into the Gulf of Mexico at about 6:45 p.m. Sunday, 20-miles southwest of Yankeetown.

Darien Peckham, a 35-year-old man, hometown unknown, and Zachary Schlitt, a 28-year-old man, of West Palm Beach, Fla., were in a single-engine, fixed-wing Beechcraft airplane (tail number N945T) enroute from Tallahassee, Fla., to Vandenberg Airport in Tampa, Fla., when air-traffic controllers in Jacksonville, Fla., reported to the Coast Guard that the plane dropped off the radar and crashed into the Gulf.

Coast Guard rescue crews have located two small debris fields within the search area but have not located the aircraft or the men. The rescue crews found a seat and a flight bag that contained aviation head phones among the debris.

The Coast Guard Cutter Marlin, an 87-foot cutter homeported in Ft. Myers, Fla., will remain onscene and its crewmembers will continue searching throughout the night.

The weather conditions at the time of the crash were 10- to 12-foot seas with 20- to 25-knot winds and strong bands of thunderstorms. The water temperature is 72 degrees.

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