Georgia girl struck by plane on Florida beach dies
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — A 9-year-old girl who was struck by a plane that crash-landed on a beach while she vacationed with her family died from her injuries, law enforcement officials said Tuesday.
Oceana Irizarry’s father also was killed Sunday. The two, of Fort Stewart, Georgia, were walking along Caspersen Beach in Venice on Sunday when the 1972 Piper Cherokee plane made an emergency landing after reporting problems.
In a statement, the family thanked the emergency responders and beachgoers who helped them, and expressed gratitude for prayers and support from around the world.
“There are no words to describe the suffering we are experiencing,” the statement said. “Their loss is devastating to our family and to everyone who knew them.”
Ommy Irizarry, an Army sergeant celebrating his ninth anniversary with wife Rebecca, died at the scene. His daughter was airlifted to All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg. The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office said Tuesday they were notified by the medical examiner’s office of the girl’s death.
Oceana was about to enter fourth grade, the family said.
“Oceana was a beautiful, intelligent and kind-hearted little girl,” the statement said. “She was a natural artist who loved to learn.”
Many of Ommy’s photos on Facebook were of him, his wife Rebecca and their three children. The family could be seen smiling on various beaches and playing in the water through the years.
It was unclear how the plane or the debris hit the father and his daughter. Officials say the pilot radioed the airport that he was having trouble and was planning to land on the beach.
“He’s trying to make the airport,” a woman calling 911 from the airport said. “He says he’s not going to make the airport. But he’s going to be on the beach.”
In other 911 calls, a family friend cried as she described the scene. Screams and wailing could be heard in the background. Another man told a dispatcher about the little girl’s condition.
“She’s breathing a little right now,” a man said. “Rapid pulse and difficult breathing. She’s unconscious.”
The pilot was identified as Karl Kokomoor, 57, and the passenger was David Theen, 60, both of nearby Englewood. They were not injured.
Kokomoor released a statement that was read to local media by his family’s pastor.
“The plane hit the water to rest with the nose down on the water’s edge,” the statement said. “It was only after I exited the plane did I realize there were people on the beach. I never saw them. I am deeply, deeply sorry.”
The National Transportation Safety Board was investigating.