A father and son who were flying back to New Jersey following a Disney vacation are missing after their small plane crashed off the Florida coast – and the US Coast Guard has suspended its search for the wreckage, according to reports.
Peter Renzulli, 51, and his son Daniel, 18, both of Bridgewater, NJ, were on a Piper PA-46 Malibu that went down in the water off Jacksonville on Wednesday, according to NJ.com.
“The family was devastated to learn that the aircraft could not be located,” aviation attorney Justin Marchetta said. “Peter and Daniel are accomplished pilots and their disappearance is heartbreaking.”
The single-engine plane took off from Kissimmee Airport in Orlando, bound for Princeton, NJ, on Thursday morning and crashed about 30 minutes later near Ponte Vedra Beach, about 18 miles south of Jacksonville, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
Renzulli, a certified public accountant and adjunct professor at Rutgers University, had recently completed 30 hours of advanced training in the Piper, Marchetta said.
The plane, which was registered in Texas, had reached an altitude of more than 22,000 feet before rapidly descending, according to aviation tracking service Flightaware.com.
A distress call was received by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center, which notified the Coast Guard, officials said.
The search was called off Saturday after helicopters, aircraft and two Coast Guard cutters scoured about 1,400 square miles for 56 hours, authorities said.
“The suspension of an active search and rescue case is never an easy decision to make,” Christopher Eddy, a Coast Guard search and rescue mission coordinator said in a statement.
“We always want the best case scenario to happen and will continue to monitor for new information that could aid responders,” he said.
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