Police on Saturday preliminarily identified the three victims of Friday’s deadly plane crash in Fort Lauderdale.
Steven Waller, 65, of Deerfield Beach, Wallis “Wally” Watson, 66, of Boca Raton and Kevin Watson, 30, of Pompano Beach were killed when their twin-engine Piper Cheyenne PA-31T crashed in a parking lot Friday afternoon, Fort Lauderdale Police said in a statement.
Waller was the plane's pilot, according to investigators. His widow, Kim Waller, said he had 20 years of experience as a pilot and wouldn’t have taken any chances when flying.
“I blame the plane, the owner and the mechanics, whoever operated or worked on that plane,” she told NBC 6.
A Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman said in an email that the National Transportation Safety Board will release updates on the incident. The NTSB has not yet released information about the plane or its owner.
“Our focus so far today has been documenting the aircraft on scene to the point where we can get it recovered off-site to look at it further,” Luke Schiada, a senior air safety investigator with the NTSB, said at the crash site Saturday. “We will continue to do that the rest of the day. We will also be gathering information on the pilot, his experience, his type of experience, medical certification, things like that.”
The turboprop aircraft departed from Runway 08 at Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport at about 4:20 p.m. and crashed just moments later into parked vehicles near a warehouse at 964 NE 53rd Court, authorities said Friday.
Witnesses said explosions followed the plane’s impact. Firefighters quickly arrived to douse various vehicles that caught fire in the lot, which police said is used to store repossessed vehicles.
Members of the Broward County Medical Examiner’s Office gathered evidence to help identify the victims. Police noted that the medical examiner's office would issue final confirmation of the plane’s occupants once it completes its evaluation.
Steven Waller was friends with the Watsons and was visiting them Friday when they asked if he wanted to fly with them, Kim Waller said.
She said Wally Watson and his son were doing an avionics check on the plane – checking its instrumentation and communications systems. The Watsons' company, Avionics Engineering, has been doing such work for years.
The Wallers, who were married 16 years, spoke on the phone about an hour before the crash.
"And I told him, I said ‘'Tell Wally hi,’ you know," Kim Waller said.
The men’s families are making arrangements for their funerals.
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