St. Petersburg, Florida — A man is dead after a plane crashed into Tampa Bay off of the St. Petersburg coast Sunday.
Now, Bay Area boaters are asking if enough was done to save his life.
The wrecked plane was towed into Albert Whitted Airport Monday afternoon.
But after outrage from witnesses, who say it took more than 30 minutes for divers to get into the water, some boaters are asking whether enough was done to save the pilot's life.
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70-year-old Donald Thomasson was found dead, strapped in his pilot seat submerged in 25 feet of water.
Some of the people who saw the plane fly yesterday say there should have been divers standing by for a situation just like that.
After speaking with FWC, St. Petersburg Police Department, and the Coast Guard, that's not likely to happen.
Witness video shows the Coast Guard responding first to the scene in minutes. But when 10 News contacted the agency by phone as the plane was being slowly towed to shore today, we found there is no dive team at the Coast Guard installation in St. Petersburg.
Instead, the coast guard relies on local law enforcement partners to provide divers, like St. Petersburg Police who had a dive team in the water 30 minutes after the crash.
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By the time the broken plane had been plucked from the bay, we had learned there was also no dive time standing by for the St. Petersburg police department because an accident like this--they say--is rare.
"A stand by dive team would be a luxury the department couldn't afford," said Public Information Officer, Mike Puetz.
St. Petersburg's only dive team is based at Fire Station number 11.
Richard Loefgren--who said 70-year-old Donald Thomasson's Piper plane was flying just fine when he saw it yesterday--thinks first responders should respond with a little more in the water.
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"Yeah I think that's a policy (adding standby divers) that they should look into," he said.
The plane was transported to a hangar at Albert Whitted Airport where NTSB is investigating.
None of the agencies 10 News contacted today indicated they will change their policies because of this crash. They said a crash that becomes submerged so quickly is just so rare.
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