‘Trying to text and call’: Australian girl, 10, was at sleepover when family died in US light plane crash
An Australian girl was at a friend’s house in Florida when a light plane crashed into the Gulf of Mexico on the weekend, killing her parents and older sister.
Queensland man Christian Kath, 42, was piloting the rented Piper Cherokee when it crashed on Saturday night with his wife, Misty, 43, and their eldest daughter, Lily, 12, on board.
The couple’s other daughter Harper, 10, was having a sleepover that night, Christian Kath’s father, Chris, said.
Speaking to 7News, Chris Kath, who lives in Gympie, said his granddaughter Harper had been staying with a friend.
“She was trying to text and call her mum and sister in the morning [asking] when were they coming to pick her up,” he said on Wednesday.
“I want Christian to also be remembered for his depth of character as well as his loving character. He really will be missed. The world will be a poorer place for not having Christian.”
The bodies of Misty and Lily have been found while Christian remained missing and was presumed dead.
The family – originally from Gympie – was living in St Petersburg in Florida.
The Venice police department said the aircraft had been taken to Jacksonville where the crash would be investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board.
“After consultation with the US Coast Guard, the search for the missing male pilot, Christian Kath, has been discontinued at this time,” the department said in a statement on Thursday morning Australian time.
“The possible parameters of the search area exceed over 2,000 square nautical miles. Family members have been notified.”
Christian Kath became a pilot this year and in March shared a post on social media celebrating his first flight.
“I flew solo for the first time today! Felt so proud to finally achieve something I’ve been wanting to do since I was eight years old,” he wrote on Facebook.
“Thanks for putting up with my early morning lessons and late-night studying Misty Kath; it will all feel worthwhile when we can fly to the Keys for a weekend away with Lily and Harper soon. Feel lucky to live and be learning to fly in such a beautiful part of the world!”
In the comments section, his wife said: “So, so proud of you!!! I cannot wait for all our flying adventures.”
A former colleague of Christian’s, Stuart French, expressed his condolences on social media.
“Chris was one of the good guys,” he wrote. “I will miss you Christian. I was looking forward to you returning to Australia, but now that will never happen. Rest in peace buddy. You will be missed.”