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US girl struck by plane on Florida beach dies

July 29, 2014

SARASOTA, Florida (AP) — A 9-year-old U.S. girl who was struck by a plane that crash-landed on a beach while she walked with her father has died from her injuries, law enforcement officials said Tuesday.

Oceana Irizarry’s father also was killed Sunday. The two were walking along a Florida beach when the 1972 Piper Cherokee plane made an emergency landing after reporting problems.

Ommy Irizarry, a U.S. Army sergeant celebrating his ninth anniversary with wife Rebecca, died at the scene. His daughter was airlifted a hospital. The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office said Tuesday morning it was notified by the medical examiner’s office of the girl’s death.

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 with the plane and was planning to land on the beach.

“He’s trying to make the airport,” a woman making an emergency call 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 emergency calls, a family friend cried as she described the scene while 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.”

In a statement, the family thanked the emergency responders and beachgoers who helped them.

“There are no words to describe the suffering we are experiencing,” the statement said.

The pilot was identified as Karl Kokomoor, 57, and the passenger was David Theen, 60. They were not injured.

Kokomoor released a statement that was read to 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.

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