ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — A 9-year-old girl who was struck by a plane that crash-landed on a beach while she vacationed with her family has died from her injuries, law enforcement officials in Florida said today.
Oceana Irizarry’s father also was killed Sunday. The two, of Fort Stewart, Georgia, were walking along Caspersen Beach in Venice on Sunday afternoon 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 Sunday. His daughter was airlifted to All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg. The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office said Tuesday morning that they were notified by the medical examiner’s office of the girl’s death.
He “was a beloved husband, father, son, brother, friend and soldier,” the family wrote in the statement. “He lit up the room whenever he entered and was devoted to his family.”
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 with the plane 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 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.”
The pilot was identified as Karl Kokomoor, 57, and the passenger was David Theen, 60, both of nearby Englewood. They were not injured.
The National Transportation Safety Board was investigating.