VENICE, Fla. — The names of the family who were on board a small plane that crashed Saturday night off Venice Beach have been released, according to the Venice Police Department.
The pilot, 42-year-old Christian Kath; his wife, 43-year-old Misty Kath; and their 12-year-old daughter, Lily, were on board when the single-engine Piper Cherokee crashed into the Gulf of Mexico shortly after take-off from the Venice Municipal Airport.
They had reportedly flown from St. Petersburg to Venice for dinner, with "every intention of returning" to St. Petersburg that night. But they never arrived.
According to a news release, the Kath family was currently living in St. Petersburg and had previously lived in Australia.
The couple had another daughter who was not on the plane. Christian's father, Chris Kath, tells 10 Tampa Bay the remaining daughter is now flying to Australia with a close friend to be with her family.
Chris Kath told 10 Tampa Bay they are still processing the situation and grieving, but adds: "We have a large supportive family and many good friends, who are all helping to take care of everything. It's tough for us, but we're lucky at least in that we're very well supported."
Shorecrest Preparatory School in St. Petersburg said the family had connections to the school.
"We can confirm that the Kaths were a Shorecrest family and that we are grieving this tragic loss to our school community. Out of respect for the privacy of the family and our community members, we cannot comment further or provide additional information at this time," a statement read.
The search for Christian Kath is ongoing, but police said that while the search area for the missing pilot has been expanded, "assets have been scaled back." Boaters from Sarasota Bay south to Gasparillas are being asked to be aware of the possibility of a "body or small aircraft debris floating" in the area.
If anyone sees anything while on the water, they are asked to contact the Coast Guard using marine radio on channel 16.
The plane was recovered Monday night, officials said. It was brought to the Higel Marine Park boat ramp in Venice and will then be transported to a secure National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) facility in Jacksonville for authorities to conduct further investigation.
In the meantime, Higel Park will be closed to the public until further notice, the city of Venice said in a news release.
Few details about the crash investigation could be given, as police said the NTSB is in charge of that.
Around 10 a.m. Sunday, police said they received a call that recreational boaters had found a woman's body in the Gulf of Mexico about two miles from shore. Around that time is when the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) contacted the agency to inform them a small plane that had taken off from the Venice Municipal Airport Saturday evening had not reached its destination in St. Petersburg.
From there, multiple agencies came together to begin a search in the Gulf. Around 2 p.m. Sunday, police said divers located the wreckage of a Piper Cherokee about one-third of a mile from the airport in about 15 feet of water. Inside was the 12-year-old girl.