Oceana Irizzary, a 9-year old girl who was struck by an airplane when it crash landed on a Florida beach, has died from injuries sustained in the incident. Oceana was vacationing in Venice, Florida with her parents, grandmother and two sisters when a 1972 Piper Cherokee, a single engine airplane, attempted a crash landing on the beach.
Oceana’s parents, Army Sergeant 1st Class Ommy and Rebecca Irizzary were celebrating the couples ninth wedding anniversary on the day tragedy struck the family. Visiting from Ft. Stewart in Georgia, where Sergeant Irizzary was stationed at, the entire family was enjoying time on the Florida beach.
The pilot of the airplane had contacted the airport to report that he was experiencing trouble with the 42-year old Cherokee and was going to have to set down on Caspersen Beach Sunday afternoon. As the plane descended to the beach for the emergency landing, the plane struck both Oceana and her 36-year old father. After the fatal strike, the place continued down the beach approximately 50 yards before coming to a stop.
After being struck by the plane, Sergeant Irizzary died from injuries sustained in the accident while his 9-year old little girl was airlifted from the beach to All Children’s Hospital in nearby St. Petersburg, Florida. The youngster was unconscious, but breathing after being hit by the airplane. The injuries to Oceana were just too severe and the little girl died on Tuesday.
Soon after being notified that Oceana did not survive the injuries she sustained in the accident, a statement by the family was released saying that the little girl had “joined her daddy in heaven.” The statement, released from the family through the hospital, also said that the loss is devastating to the family and the friends who knew both the father and daughter.
The pilot, identified as Karl Kokomoor, released a statement on Tuesday. In the statement read by Kokomoor’s pastor said that the 57-year old pilot from nearby Englewood did not realize anyone was on the beach as he set the plane down. It was not until he stepped out of the crashed plane that the devastating results of the emergency landing were realized by Kokomoor. “I never saw them. I am deeply, deeply sorry,”
The crash is being treated as non-criminal by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), who is investigating the events. Both Kokomoor and his only passenger, David Theen, also of Englewood, were both uninjured in the crash. According to reports from the airport, Kokomoor was attempting to reach a nearby municipal airport after reporting trouble with the aircraft. The ill-fated flight, then reported that he was going to have to set down on the beach where the unexpected tragedy struck.
According to the family, Oceana was going to enter fourth grade this fall. The little girl who died from her injuries suffered after being struck by the airplane on the Florida beach loved to learn. Authorities believe the engine may have cut out before attempting the emergency landing. That, combined with the sounds of the ocean surf may have led to the family not hearing or seeing the airplane as it came down for the fatal crash landing. While not injured in the accident, Sergeant Irizzary’s wife, who was not injured in the incident, was so distressed after the tragedy, was also hospitalized.
By Carl Auer