JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Two couples who vacationed together regularly were killed on Sunday when the small plane they also shared crashed upon takeoff from a small airport in the Bahamas.
Dennis and Janie Sartoris, of Jacksonville Beach, and Gregory and Janice Schwartezenberger, of Neptune Beach, died when the six-seat, single-engine Piper Saratoga crashed near the runway at the tiny Treasure Cay airport on Abaco Island.
The Schwartzenbergers owned a construction company and the Sartorises a dental clinic. Friends told Channel 4 they were both heavily involved in the community and their deaths leave a gaping hole.
"It's a heartbreak because those two guys and their wives were just the nicest people in the world and they would do anything for anybody," said Russell Peterstake.
Dale Watkiss worked with the Sartoris. He said the couples had flown the route every other weekend for a year or more.
"He always honored his place on this earth and that's what made him so unique," Watkiss said.
The Sartorises (pictured, right) were , 61 and 56 years old and had two children and a grandson. The Schwartezenbergers (pictured below), aged 60 and 56, had two children.
Authorities are still trying to determine what caused the crash. One official said the crash occurred in gusty winds.
Russell Stevens told Channel 4 that he taught both men to fly and that they knew what they were doing.
"They've flown this route a multitude of times," Stevens said. "They each have a house down there, so they've done this trip almost every other weekend for a year or two."
Bahamian civil aviation officials were investigating, and detectives from the Royal Bahamas Police Force also would travel to Abaco from New Providence island to assist with the investigation.
Funeral arrangements for the two couples were still pending.
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