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Four dead in small plane crash over central Florida, officials say

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(WINTER HAVEN, Fla.) — Four people have died after two planes crashed over Lake Hartridge in Winter Haven, Florida, on Tuesday, law enforcement officials said.


The Polk County Sheriff’s Office has identified Faith Irene Baker, 24, a pilot and flight instructor with Sunrise Aviation; Zachary Jean Mace, 19, a student at Polk State College; and Randall Elbert Crawford, 67, from Carlisle, Pennsylvania, as three of the people who died in the collision.

“My heart goes out to the families and friends of those who were killed in today’s crash. The NTSB and FAA will be investigating the cause and circumstances of the collision,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said in a statement. “Please keep the families in your prayers during this difficult and stressful time.”

Police are working to identify the fourth person, authorities said. Baker and Mace were in a Cherokee Piper 161, while Crawford and the fourth victim were in a Piper J-3 Cub, according to the sheriff’s office.

Search and rescue operations have ceased, as all four people are believed to be the only occupants of the two aircraft, police said.

“Our Polk State College family is devastated by this tragedy,” Angela Garcia Falconetti, the school’s president, said in a statement. “We extend our deepest condolences to their families, friends and colleagues.”

One of the planes was operated by Sunrise Aviation on behalf of Polk State College, while the other was run by Jack Brown’s Seaplane Base, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office told ABC News in a statement.

Police responded to a 911 call at 2:04 p.m. local time about the crash.

One plane was floating below the surface of the water while the other sat 21 feet on the lake bed, according to police.

The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board were en route to Lake Hartridge to investigate the collision.

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