Unresponsive Cessna Headed to Sarasota Crashes Into Gulf of Mexico

716175_airplane%20sxchu.jpgIn April, an unresponsive airplane crashed into the Gulf of Mexico while on its way to Sarasota, Florida. After the Jacksonville Air Traffic Control Center notified the United States military that a Cessna 421C was flying close to one of the warning areas near Eglin Air Force Base, two New Orleans National Guard F-15s closely monitored the small plane for about three hours until it apparently ran out of fuel and went down about 120 miles west of Tampa. All attempts to hail the pilot of the Cessna were unsuccessful.

According to the military pilots who attempted to intercept the Cessna, the small plane’s windshield was iced over and the aircraft’s altitude fluctuated by about 10,000 feet. The plane also flew in circles high above the water. A representative from the Coast Guard stated the plane landed in the Gulf of Mexico upright and intact, but there were no indications the pilot was alive or made any attempts to exit the aircraft. The F-15 pilots also said they saw no life rafts deploy. The pilot, a 65-year-old Louisiana physician, was reportedly the only person on board the Cessna when it left Slidell, Louisiana. The plane later sank in about 1,500 feet of water before rescue boats could arrive. The body of Dr. Peter Hertzak was not recovered.

Although it is unclear what transpired onboard the Cessna, some have speculated the pilot may have lost consciousness due to a lack of oxygen. A similar tragedy occurred in 1999 when five people aboard a Lear jet carrying professional golfer Payne Stewart lost consciousness due to changes in cabin pressure and a lack of oxygen. Everyone aboard the jet died when it crashed several hours later after running out of fuel. According to Slidell Airport mechanic Bill Huete, the pilot regularly ensured the Cessna aircraft was well-maintained.

Airplane crashes are generally tragic and seldom leave any survivors. Those lucky enough to survive such a catastrophe will often live the rest of their lives with a permanently disability. If you were hurt or a loved one was killed in a commercial, private, or charter airplane accident over Florida, you should contact an experienced Florida aviation accident lawyer.

At Lazarus & Lazarus, P.A., our experienced Orlando aviation accident attorneys are available to help you receive the compensation you deserve based on your airplane crash injuries. Our law firm will work with investigators to preserve evidence and prove your case. At Lazarus & Lazarus, our dedicated and hardworking aviation accident lawyers will examine pilot errors, airplane maintenance, aircraft defects, and other possible mistakes in order to establish negligence. We represent clients throughout the State of Florida including Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, Weston, Broward County, Dade County, and Palm Beach County. To speak with a knowledgeable aviation accident attorney today, call Lazarus & Lazarus at (954) 356-0006 or contact the law firm through our website.

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Two Separate High-Speed Boating Accidents Kill Three in Tavares During Spring Thunder Regatta, Florida Personal Injury Attorney Blog, March 21, 2012
Florida Highway Patrol on the Lookout for Aggressive Drivers, Florida Personal Injury Attorney Blog, February 28, 2012
Additional Resources:

Unresponsive Cessna: What caused the plane crash?, by Elisssa R. Nelson, The Christian Science Monitor

“Unresponsive” plane crashes into Gulf of Mexico, cbsnews.com