A man walking along Caspersen Beach near Sarasota, Florida (FL), on July 27, 2014, lost his life when he was struck by a small, privately owned airplane attempting an emergency landing on the packed sand along the water's edge. According to news reports, the deceased victim was accompanied by his 9-year-old daughter and wife. The young girl sustained critical injuries, and the woman was hospitalized for shock and psychic trauma.
According to a witness interviewed by a Sarasota Herald-Tribune reporter, the plane came in silently because its engine had cut off. Neither the pilot nor the passenger on the aircraft, identified as a 1972 Piper Cherokee, was injured in the crash.
As shocking as this fatal accident seems, it is nearly identical a deadly incident that occurred on a Hilton Head, South Carolina (SC), beach in March 2010. After engine failure caused a small plane to glide in low over the sand, the plane hit a jogger who was wearing earphones and never even knew his life was in danger.
As a licensed pilot, I know that aircraft maintenance needs to be an ongoing priority. Even the tiniest missed detail can set the stage for tragedy. Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board, Federal Aviation Administration and state of Florida will need to determine exactly what went wrong, but chances are good that this accident in Florida could have been prevented.
I am also a Carolina personal injury and wrongful death attorney who has spent more than 20 years helping family members recover from the sudden loss of loved ones due to other's negligence. If the plane's owner or operator failed to take the proper precautions and actions necessary to ensure the crash did not occur, they should be held accountable.