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NTSB report: Student was flying plane involved in March 7 fatal collision in Winter Haven

Investigators photograph a Piper PA-28 Cherokee as it is removed from Lake Hartridge after a fatal collision on March 9.
Investigators photograph a Piper PA-28 Cherokee as it is removed from Lake Hartridge after a fatal collision on March 9.

An update from the National Transportation Safety Board confirmed that a student pilot was flying one of the two planes involved in a March 7 crash in Winter Haven that killed four people.

Two small planes collided above Lake Hartridge, resulting in the deaths of two aboard each craft. A Piper PA-28 Cherokee carried Faith Irene Baker, 24, of Winter Haven, a pilot and flight instructor with Sunrise Aviation; and Zachary Jean Mace, 19, of Winter Haven, a student at Polk State College.

That plane collided with a Piper J3 Cub seaplane carrying Louis C. Defazio, 78, a part-time Winter Haven resident from Fredericksburg, Texas, and Randall Elbert Crawford, 67 of Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

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The preliminary report confirmed many details an NTSB investigator had provided during media briefings in the days following the crash. The J3 Cub was returning to Jack Brown’s Seaplane Base on the shore of Lake Jessie for a water landing and had approached from the north and had just turned to head west, according to a witness cited in the report.

Previously Investigator: Pilot attempted evasive move just before Winter Haven collision

Midair collision Both planes from collision removed from Lake Hartridge