Officials: Planes collide over Florida lake, at least 1 dead

March 8, 2023 GMT

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. (AP) — Two small planes collided in midair over a central Florida lake Tuesday afternoon, and at least one person was dead, authorities said.

Rescue workers were continuing to search Lake Hartridge in Winter Haven for possible survivors Tuesday evening, Polk County Sheriff’s Office Chief of Staff Steve Lester said during a news conference. One person was pronounced dead after rescuers attempted CPR, he said.

Winter Haven is located about 40 miles (65 kilometers) southwest of Orlando.

The Federal Aviation Administration identified one of the planes as a Piper J-3 floatplane, but the make of the other aircraft wasn’t immediately known.

Deputies said they didn’t immediately know how many people were in the planes, where they had taken off or what caused the crash. The lake where the planes went down is located immediately to the southeast of the Winter Haven Regional Airport.

Witnesses recalled the planes crashing into each other and then immediately falling into the water, Lester said. The wing of one plane was sticking out of the water, while the other aircraft had settled about 21 feet (7 meters) below the surface, officials said.

Lester said the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the crash.