MAYPORT, Fla. – A Key West ocean recovery firm brought in last week to find the wreckage of a single-engine plane that crashed off the coast of Huguenot Park before Christmas was instrumental in this week's recovery effort.
The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office Dive Team and other agencies began working out of the Morningstar Marina in Mayport on Tuesday, recovered the engine and crushed fuselage Wednesday and returned to the site Thursday to pick up remaining pieces of the plane.
It was Sea Hunt Survey International that located the wreckage that sat at the bottom of the sea for about seven weeks. The plane was found in 3½ hours using side scan-sonar technology.
"We sent him [a diver] in the water to positively identify it wasn’t an old plane that was laying there for years, and when he came up he positively identified the plane as the plane that was lost," said Dan Porter of Sea Hunt.
The missing plane was located in 15 feet of water about 100 feet off the northern side of jetties using the Edge Tech side-sonar technology that shoots parallel sonar beams sideways, which creates a side vision of the targets, according to Porter.
"We had a very hard time. The current wasn’t conducive the current was running out. We were trying to get the plane in to let the Sheriff's Office do their job," Porter said.
It took crews all day Wednesday to tow the mangled plane down the river and into the Morninstar Marina. JSO divers recovered two bodies, a New Jersey father and son, from the plane on Wednesday.
A family attorney identified the victims as Peter Renzulli, 51, and his 18-year-old son, Daniel. The Coast Guard said the aircraft was headed to New Jersey from Orlando.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, Peter Renzulli received his pilot’s license in June of 2018 and Daniel received his license in April of 2018.