Coast Guard ends search for 5 people in downed aircraft

PORT RICHEY, Fla. – Based on the catastrophic nature of the crash, the Coast Guard ended its search efforts at 3 p.m. Thursday for five people aboard an aircraft that crashed in the Gulf of Mexico around 3 p.m.Wednesday, 20-miles west of Port Richey.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg, Fla., received a call at 3 p.m. Wednesday from an air-traffic control center in Jacksonville, Fla., reporting that a twin-engine Cessna aircraft had departed Collin County Regional Airport in McKinney, Texas for Tampa International Airport, and crashed west of Port Richey.

The Coast Guard immediately launched several assets to search the area and discovered a two-mile-wide debris field. During the extensive search, Coast Guard crewmembers recovered plane wreckage and human remains.

“We would like to send our thoughts and prayers to the families of those involved in the crash,” said Capt. Timothy M. Close, Commander of Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg.

Coast Guard crews searching were:

  • Three HH-60 Jayhawk rescue helicopter crews from Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater, Fla.
  • A 47-foot motor life boat crew and a 25-foot rescue boat crew from Coast Guard Station Sand Key, in Clearwater.
  • The 87-foot Coast Guard Cutter Alligator, homeported in St. Petersburg.
  • The 87-foot Coast Guard Cutter Marlin, homeported in Fort Myers Beach, Fla.

The National Transportation Safety Board will be investigating the incident.

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