UPDATED: 9:26 p.m. December 08, 2007
Two small, privately-owned planes - one based in Palm Beach County - crashed into the Everglades this afternoon about 100 yards from the Broward county line.
There were no survivors.
Recovery efforts have ended for the day. They will resume in the morning.
The crash occurred around 3 p.m. and initial reports indicate the planes may have collided in mid-air, according to Kathleen Bergen, an FAA spokeswoman.
At least one of the planes is a small Piper and registered to a Waverly, Penn. man named Harry Duckworth, according to FAA records. It is not known if he was on the plane at the time of the accident.
The plane left Ocala around 1:30 p.m. and was scheduled to arrive at Pompano Beach Airpark at 3:05 p.m.
Joan Craig, Duckworth’s mother-in-law who lives in Kissimmee, hadn’t learned of the accident at 5 p.m. Saturday, and asked for the plane’s tail number for confirmation of the owner.
“Yes, that’s it, Charlie, Charlie,” she said calmly about the registration that ends in CC. Craig said she believes Duckworth was alone on the plane, and was headed to see a friend in Fort Lauderdale. Craig hoped her daughter, Susan Duckworth, had stayed behind in Ocala to visit with her granddaughter. “I don’t think she was going with him,” she said before asking for Federal Aviation Administration contact numbers.
The other plane is a Cessna 152 based in Palm Beach County. Names and other information is not being released. The pilot didn’t file a flight plan, making it difficult to easily tell how many passengers were on board.
Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office received a call from Miami International Air Tower about a possible mid-air collision in the area. A helicopter crew was sent to investigate and spotted wreckage - parts of a wing - near the border.
Emergency crews from Palm Beach County and Florida Fish and Wildlife responded by air and by boat. The crash occurred about 2 miles west of the end of “Lox” Road, in a mucky part of the Everglades inaccessible by boat. Firefighters had to make there way through 75 yards of knee- to thigh-high deep muck.
“They had to trek it through mud, saw grass, cattails, trees - all kinds of stuff ,” said Lyle Thomas, owner of Loxahatchee Everglades Tours, a nearby airboat tour business, He said about a dozen recreational airboaters converged near the crash scene in case firefighters needed their help, but emergency crews quickly declared it a “crime scene” and didn’t need the airboaters help. He said there were probably abut 30 people on airboats in the area when crash happened, but no boater he has talked to claimed to have witness the crash itself.