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Search ends for missing pilot of small plane that crashed off Venice Beach

Christian Kath disappeared after the plane he, his wife and his 12-year-old daughter were on crashed after take-off. Both Misty and Lily Kath were found dead.

VENICE, Fla. — Authorities said they have ended the search for missing pilot Christian Kath, whose small plane crashed shortly after taking off from an airport in Venice over the weekend. 

Kath, along with his wife, Misty, and 12-year-old daughter, Lily, had flown Saturday from St. Petersburg to Venice for dinner, "with every intention" of returning home that night, police said earlier. They never arrived.

Instead, the Kaths' plane crashed just offshore Venice Beach. On Sunday morning, recreational boaters reported finding a woman's body floating in the water. Around that same time, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) let local authorities know a single-engine Piper Cherokee never arrived at its destination after taking off from the Venice Municipal Airport. 

A search was then conducted to find the missing plane. Around 2 p.m. Sunday, divers found the plane's wreckage. The young girl was found inside. Authorities later confirmed the body found by boaters was Misty Kath.

But Christian Kath had not been found. As a result, authorities began searching the area for him — the search area kept getting larger. After several days of searching, Venice police said it consulted with the U.S. Coast Guard and came to the decision to discontinue the search for the missing pilot. 

This is because the possible parameters of the search area now exceeds more than 2,000 square nautical miles, police explained. 

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.

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