Coast Guard suspends search for 2 people near Big Pine Key

A Monroe County Sheriff's Office diver holds a piece of aircraft debris from the ocean floor 15 miles north of Big Pine Key, Florida, March 3, 2021. Coast Guard crews suspended the search March 3, 2021. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Station Key West)

A Monroe County Sheriff’s Office diver holds a piece of aircraft debris from the ocean floor 15 miles north of Big Pine Key, Florida, March 3, 2021.  (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Station Key West)

MIAMI — Coast Guard crews suspended the search, Thursday, for two missing people in an airplane crash approximately 15 miles north of Big Pine Key.

Monroe County Sheriff’s office divers recovered two pieces of a plane, Thursday, identifying the tail number of the reported missing aircraft on the ocean floor in the search area.

Working with the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and the Federal Aviation Administration, Coast Guard watchstanders determined a probable search area based on the last time the aircraft appeared on radar. An Air Station Miami HC-144 Ocean Sentry air crew identified a sheen in the search area, which also correlated with Coast Guard partner agencies findings.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Alexandra Tufo and Thomas Campana,” said Cmdr. Lindsey Seniuk, search and rescue mission coordinator, Coast Guard District Seven. “This was a challenging case and it made the decision to suspend that much harder after our partners found the debris field. The MCSO divers are the experts in this new phase of the search, and our crews will be ready if our assistance is requested.”

Coast Guard air and surface crews began searching for a possible overdue aircraft Tuesday. It was reported to watchstanders the airplane left Palm Beach County airport for Key West, Sunday.

Coast Guard crews searched more than 72 hours and included:

  • Coast Guard Cutter Crocodile
  • Air Station Miami
  • Station Key West
  • Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
  • Monroe County Sheriff’s Office

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