POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Four people are dead after two small planes collided in central Florida on Tuesday.
According to the Winter Haven Police Department, search, and rescue crews responded to Lake Hartridge, about 50 miles east of Tampa, after the planes collided around 2 p.m.
“It was an in-air collision, and both planes immediately went into the water,” Polk County Chief Steve Lester said. One plane sank 21 feet under the water.
According to investigators, one of the planes was a Piper J-3 Cub seaplane operated by Jack Brown’s Seaplane Base in Winter Haven. The other plane was a Cherokee Piper 161 fixed-wing plane operated by Sunrise Aviation in Ormond Beach on behalf of Polk State College.
The Polk County Sheriff’s Office identified three of the four people who died in the crash. They include pilot Fairth Irene Baker, 24, of Winter Haven; Polk State College student Zachary Jean Mace, 19; and Randall Elbert Crawford, 67, from Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
Deputies said they are working to confirm the identity of the fourth victim.
“My heart goes out to the families and friends of those who were killed in today’s crash. The NTSB and FAA will be investigating the cause and circumstances of the collision. Please keep the families in your prayers during this difficult and stressful time,” Sherrif Grady Judd said.
Police were also asking residents to avoid a nearby boating ramp and to avoid boating in the area on Tuesday. The collision happened not far from the Winter Haven Regional Airport.
Details on what led up to the crash have not yet been released.