NEW: Pilot says he never saw victims on the beach
A 9-year-old girl and her father were struck by a plane walking along a Florida beach
The small plane was making an emergency landing when it hit them
The girl's father died at the scene, she died at the hospital
The 9-year-old girl critically injured when an airplane struck her on a Florida beach last weekend has died, the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office said Tuesday.
The girl, Oceana Irizarry, and her father, Ommy Irizarry, 36, of Georgia were struck Sunday afternoon by a plane making an emergency landing, the Federal Aviation Administration said. The father died at the scene, and the girl was rushed to a hospital.
Venice Municipal Airport officials reported a plane in distress Sunday afternoon, sheriff’s spokeswoman Wendy Rose said.
The pilot of a 1972 Piper Cherokee radioed that he would be unable to make it back to the airport and that he was instead going to attempt a landing on Caspersen Beach, just to the south.
The pilot, Karl Kokomoor, and his passenger, David Theen, were uninjured. They are from Englewood, Florida.
Kokomoor – the president and CEO of local engineering firm – is “emotionally distraught and devastated,” his pastor, Victor Willis, said Tuesday.
“Words cannot express the sorrow I feel,” said a statement that was read by Willis.
’Never saw them’
Kokomoor said that he was losing altitude fast and had little time to make a decision. He said he aimed for an area on the water’s edge that appeared to be remote.
“I never saw them,” he said. “It was only after I landed and we exited the plane that I realized that there were people on the beach.”
The investigation into the crash is being conducted by the FAA and National Transportation Safety Board.
The death investigation – which is being conducted by the sheriff’s office – will determine if Kokomoor will face any charges, said Rose.
“I send my heartfelt apologies to the Irizarry family for my role in this tragic accident,” the statement read. “I will fully cooperate with the FAA and NTSB in their investigations.”
Family was celebrating wedding anniversary
On the same day he died, Ommy Irizarry posted a love message on Facebook to his wife, as they were celebrating their ninth wedding anniversary.
“Thank you for being with me through thick and thin. I love you with all my heart, mi Roma. I am very happy and can’t wait to see what the next 100 have in store for us,” Irizarry wrote.
According to his Facebook page, Irizarry was originally from Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. He was an Army sergeant first class stationed at Fort Stewart, Georgia.
He was a platoon sergeant assigned to Fort Stewart’s Warrior Transition Battalion, the Army said. He twice deployed to Iraq since joining the Army in 2002.
“This is a heart-wrenching situation, especially losing loved ones while on vacation to celebrate a family milestone,” said Maj. Gen. Mike Murray, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division and Stewart-Hunter. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the Irizarry family.”
CNN’s Kevin Conlon and Javier De Diego contributed to this report