Five people died when a small plane crashed into Lake Okeechobee Friday afternoon, authorities said.
At 3:26 p.m. Friday, the small plane crashed into the lake about 400 yards from shore a little north of Pahokee Airport, said Teri Barbera, spokeswoman for the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.
Divers from Palm Beach County Fire Rescue found the five bodies when they searched the aircraft fuselage in the water, she said. On Saturday afternoon, PBSO identified the victims as Eduardo Mulet, 45, of West Palm Beach; Eric Peterson, 73, of Lighthouse Point; Matthew Fiorello, 36, of Palm Beach Gardens; Heather Bridwell, 43, of Jupiter; and Edwin Mortell III, 54, of Stuart.
The Federal Aviation Administration issued an alert which triggered a search for the twin-engine Piper aircraft, a PA-23 commonly known as an Aztec, said an FAA.
The plane had taken off from Tampa International Airport and went down as it approached the Pahokee airport, according to the FAA. Officials in Tampa said the flight was a charter had departed from Sheltair Aviation Services.
The Pahokee Airport is located near the southeast portion of the lake’s shore.
A man who answered the phone at the airport said he had no information about the crash.
The National Transportation Safety Board will be in charge of the crash investigation. The death investigation will be handled by the sheriff’s office violent crimes division.
This is the fourth in a series of small plane crashes recently in South Florida. Last month, veterinarian Ken Simmons and his wife, Alice, were killed when their private plane crashed off the coast of Palm Beach County.
On March 1, 28-year-old Derek Morgan was killed after the banner tow plane he was flying crashed into a condo building near Fort Lauderdale Beach. Then on Tuesday, a student pilot was killed after a Piper PA-28 crashed into a wooded area in Vero Lake Estates.