FLORIDA, United States, Wednesday July 30, 2014 – A celebration at the beach turned tragic for a Puerto Rican family on Sunday afternoon when a light aircraft slammed into Ommy Irizarry, 36, and his nine-year-old daughter Oceana, while their relatives looked on in horrified disbelief.
Irizarry died shortly after the freak accident, while his daughter passed away the following day. She had been airlifted to All Children’s Hospital in St Petersburg, Florida along with her grandmother Isabel Medina, who was suffering from shock after the carnage.
Also present at the scene of the bloodbath were Irizarry’s wife Rebecca, Irizarry’s son from a previous marriage, and a younger daughter.
The family, who were vacationing on the Florida Gulf Coast, were celebrating Ommy and Rebecca’s ninth wedding anniversary on the day of the tragedy.
A few hours before the deadly accident, Ommy wrote in a Facebook post: “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 was an army sergeant stationed at Fort Stewart base in Georgia and had been deployed twice to Iraq, according to a report in Puerto Rican newspaper El Nuevo Dia.
Recounting the incident, Isabel Medina’s husband Miguel Cancel told El Nuevo Dia: “My wife was sitting there on the beach under an umbrella that Ommy had put to protect her and her two grandchildren from the sun when she saw the plane fall on him.
“Ommy was collecting snails with Oceana and the plane caught them off guard from behind,” Cancel said.
Lawmen said the pilot of the 1972 Piper Cherokee lost a wheel, damaged a wing and smashed the propeller shortly after making a distress call to Venice Municipal Airport. Neither the pilot, Karl Kokomoor, 57, nor the passenger, David Theen, 60, both of nearby Englewood, were injured.
The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration are investigating.
Meanwhile, the Irizarry’s Facebook page was filled with photos of the family enjoying beaches in Georgia and in Ommy’s native Puerto Rico. The day before the Piper Cherokee ended his life, he posted a photo from a beach near Sarasota, with the words “I love Mom + Dad,” scrawled in the sand.