Winter Haven mid air crash in Florida kills four, including flight instructor, Faith Irene Baker and student pilot, Zachary Jean Mace, in one plane. Authorities yet to say what caused collision.
What caused the crash? Four people were killed — including a flight instructor and a student pilot — when two planes collided in midair in Florida on Tuesday, with both planes proceeding to crash into a lake below.
The Cherokee Piper 161 and Piper J-3 Cub seaplane crashed into Lake Hartridge in Winter Haven, about 45 miles southwest of Orlando, about 2 p.m., ClickOrlando reported.
Identified as the victims in one craft was Faith Irene Baker, 24, a flight instructor with Sunrise Aviation in Ormond Beach, and Zachary Jean Mace, 19, a student pilot at Polk State College, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office said.
Randall Elbert Crawford, 67, of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and Louis Defazio, 78 of Fredricksburg, Texas were aboard the Cub operated by Jack Brown’s Seaplane Base in Winter Haven, officials said.
The collision — which happened near the Winter Haven Regional Airport — sent one of the planes plunging 21 feet underwater, while the other one remained partially submerged.
REST IN PEACE: The two youngest victims in this yesterday’s plane crash were identified as Winter Haven pilot Faith Irene Baker, 24 and Polk State College student Zachary Jean Mace, 19. https://t.co/uorMJVgz7e pic.twitter.com/WgZndDbAij
— WFLA NEWS (@WFLA) March 8, 2023
Cause of mid air collision unknown
The victims were the only people on the two planes, officials said.
‘My heart goes out to the families and friends of those who were killed in today’s crash,’ Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said.
‘The NTSB and FAA will be investigating the cause and circumstances of the collision,’ he added, referring to the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration. ‘Please keep the families in your prayers during this difficult and stressful time.’
In a statement, Winter Haven’s People’s Church released a statement in which they said one of the victims, Faith Baker, ‘was a lover of Jesus, an invaluable member of our worship team, & a sweet, sweet young lady. Please pray for her husband, Johnathan & her parents as they navigate through this difficult time.’
Polk State College also released a statement in which they said it is mourning the loss of the student pilot and instructor.
‘Our Polk State College family is devastated by this tragedy,’ school president Angela Garcia Falconetti said. ‘We extend our deepest condolences to their families, friends, and colleagues.’
The statement added that Polk ‘is offering support on its campuses, by phone, and virtually through the BayCare Student Assistance Program and the Employee Assistance Program.’
The cause of the midair collision is not yet known.