Victims ID’d In Deadly Plane Crash Near Airport
FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Police have identified three people killed Friday afternoon after a twin-engine plane crashed near Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport.
Investigators have identified the pilot as Steven Waller, 65, of Deerfield Beach; and passengers as Wallis “Wally” Watson, 66, of Boca Raton and his son Kevin Watson, 30, of Pompano Beach.
No one on the ground was injured.
Friends say Wally and Kevin Watson worked together at Avionics Engineering in Ft. Lauderdale and both loved planes.
“All those people are great guys, we’re all family,” said Gus Maestrales who also flies out of Ft. Lauderdale Executive Airport who added that the Watsons had done work for him. “It’s a father and son so it makes it harder.”
Neighbors in Pompano, where Kevin Watson lived with his fiance cried when they heard about the crash. They said Kevin was a good neighbor and was about to get married.
“He helped us in the yard. He was just that kind of a person anytime you needed anything he was always there trying to help you,” said Kay Wollert.
The names of the three occupants will be confirmed by the Broward County Medical Examiner Office upon completion of their evaluation.
The plane crashed at 964 NW 53rd St., near the intersection of 53rd and N. Powerline Road, around 4:20 p.m., according to the airport’s public information officer, Chaz Adams.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) identified the plane as a Piper Cheyenne PA31-T Navajo twin-turbine propeller. Adams said the aircraft seats eight passengers.
The plane had just taken off from the airport on what Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue said was a local flight. Shortly thereafter, the plane began to bank to the right, eventually crashing down onto a paved lot used to store repossessed vehicles.
Chopper 4 showed the resulting blaze, which incinerated several of the unoccupied vehicles.
Adams said the plane may have been trying to return to the airport when it went down.
Fort Lauderdale Police Department detectives and crime scene investigators are working alongside the FAA and National Transportation Safety Board on the investigation.
“We’re very early in the investigation we’re trying to gather as much factual information as we can,” explained Luke Schiada with NTSB. “We’re not going to speculate, we’re not going to draw any conclusions. We’re just focusing on the facts at this point.”
Schiada said the NTSB will have a preliminary report in five business days and then a full report in six to eight months. That report will be sent to investigators in Washington to determine the official cause of the crash.
Anyone with further information regarding the plane crash is encouraged to contact Detective William DeJesus at 954-828-5366.