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Report: No malfunctions, failures found in plane crash killing 2 Hamilton County couples

WASHINGTON (WISH) — Federal aviation investigators said Thursday no malfunctions or failures were found in a plane crash that killed four Hamilton County, Indiana, residents this month off the coast of Venice, Florida.

The crash of the Piper PA-32R happened 9:37 p.m. April 5 as the single-engine plane took off from Venice Municipal Airport for a return trip to Albert Whitted Airport in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Venice Police Department identified the four people who died in the crash as William “Jeff” Lumpkin, 64, and and his wife, Patricia Lumpkin, 68, of Fishers; and Ricky Beaver, 60, and his wife, Elizabethe Beaver, 57, of Noblesville. William Lumpkin was believed to have piloted the plane.

Earlier that day, the couples had traveled to the Venice area from St. Petersburg, Florida, according to police. They were returning to St. Petersburg when the plane crashed shortly after takeoff, Venice police say.

The report from the National Transportation Safety Board said the plane took off and reached an altitude of 300 feet and then began to turn right. Then the plane began to descend. Over 14 seconds, the rate of descent increased. On the final reading from the plane, it was at an altitude of 100 feet, falling about 3,008 feet per minute with a ground speed of 136 knots (156 mph).

Local emergency services and a local sea towing franchise recovered most of the wreckage at a depth of 23 feet from the Gulf of Mexico. The salvage crews did not find the right wing, parts of the main fuselage, and parts of the fuel system. No evidence of a fire was found.

The report also said the area had clear skies, a temperature of 78 degrees, and no wind during the crash.

The report from the National Transportation Safety Board said the plane’s male pilot, who was not identified, had a commercial pilot certificate. The pilot’s most recent medical certificate had been issued in June 2016, at which time he had accrued 1,221 flight hours.

A celebration of life for the Beavers was April 20 at Grace Church in Noblesville.

A funeral home in Florida has not announced any services for the Lumpkins.

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