Expert: Pilot had to make split decision

Venice, Florida -- The single-engine Piper Archer that crash landed on Caspersen Beach this weekend is on its way to a Central Florida location where the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board will continue the investigation.

Before transport Monday, a crew took off the wings and mounted the plane on the bed of a truck, after towing it about half a mile up the beach.

The Sunday afternoon flight ended in a deadly crash: Ommy Irizarry, 36, was killed as he was walking along the shore with his 9-year-old daughter Oceana, who was critically injured.

Both the pilot, 57-year-old Karl Kokomoor, and passenger, 60-year-old David Theen, walked away.

Theen's neighbor saw him Monday morning.

"He was unscathed like nothing happened," said David Warfel of Theen.

Warfel says he saw Theen earlier on Sunday with one of his planes taking off from Buchan Airport in Englewood, behind his home.

"I saw the plane on the grass. David got in the plane and taxied out and took off," Warfel said.

The men radioed the Venice Airport around 2:45 p.m. they were having trouble and alerted the tower they were making an emergency landing on the shoreline of Caspersen Beach in Venice.

"It's a tough call you have to make a split-second decision," said experienced pilot Leonard Van Lischoten. "What would have happened if they had landed in the water? The possibilities of a plane like that you won't survive nine out of 10."

"It was a wise move but sad there had to be people there very sad," Warfel said.

The two men walked away from a crash landing on Caspersen Beach in Venice Sunday afternoon. It's a landing that was textbook, Van Lischoten said.

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"You're on auto pilot. You go through your checklist, the beach looks like a safe resort," he said.

Kokomoor radioed the Venice Airport that he would be making an emergency landing on the shore.

"Only thing you think about at that point is how close you can get to the beach the better chances of surviving," said Van Lischoten. "It's a tough call, you have to make a split decision."

Van Lischoten says while the pilot does look for people below, his focus is in the plane.

UPDATE: 9-year-old still hospitalized

"You're not seeing any person at that point. Your focus in on the instruments, you're focused on your glide speed. It's tough, it's tough," he says.

But there were people below: Ommy Irizarry and daughter Oceana.

Could the father have heard the plane gliding in behind him? Van Lischoten says no. "If the engine quits it's just a glider and the waves of the water disturb the sound of the plane coming in."

Theen, when reached by 10 News, said only: "He felt bad."

VanLischoten said, "I hope it never happens to me but it can happen to everybody. It's mechanical stuff it can fail."


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