Venice police identify St. Petersburg family killed in plane crash

The search for a missing pilot has expanded after a small plane crashed into the Gulf of Mexico near Venice, and police have now identified the family who was on board.

Venice police said the pilot, 42-year-old Christian Kath, his wife, 43-year-old Misty Kath, and their daughter,12-year-old Lily, were identified as the victims. They were currently living in St. Petersburg but previously resided in Australia.

The view from SkyFOX shows the plane wreckage beneath the surface.

The view from SkyFOX shows the plane wreckage beneath the surface.

Divers returned to the crash site Tuesday. 

"Boaters from Sarasota Bay south to Gasparilla are requested to be aware of the possibility of a body or small aircraft debris floating in this area," according to Venice police. "Boaters who observe anything should immediately contact the Coast Guard using marine radio on channel 16."

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The wreckage of the small plane was lifted out of the water and sent to a secure location in Jacksonville. The crash occurred over the weekend and the bodies of Misty and Lily were recovered. Crews are still searching for Christian.

On Monday, Venice Police Chief Charlie Thorpe said the family flew from St. Petersburg to Venice for dinner and were supposed to fly back.

Boats search the Gulf of Mexico after plane reportedly crashed after takeoff Saturday night.

Boats search the Gulf of Mexico after plane reportedly crashed after takeoff Saturday night. 

The search efforts began Sunday morning after the FAA reached out to Venice police, reporting that a rented single-engine plane took off from the Venice Municipal Airport around 7:30 p.m. Saturday – but never returned to its originating airport in St. Petersburg. Around the same time, recreational boaters discovered a 43-year-old woman's body floating in the Gulf of Mexico about 2.5 miles west of Venice Beach.

"It's tragic. It's a family. Those are the things that anybody can get choked up on," said Charlie Poch, a Venice resident.

Damaged plane removed from Gulf after crash off Venice, Fla.

Damaged plane removed from Gulf after crash off Venice, Fla.

The cause of the crash remains under investigation, and it will likely be a few days before officials can provide answers. 

Investigations involving fatalities, and other major investigations currently take between 12 and 24 months to complete.

Several agencies including the Venice police, Sarasota County Sheriff's Office, the U.S. Coast Guard, the FAA, and NTSB have been involved in the search.