Saturday, March 9, 2019

Piper PA-23-250 Aztec C, N5894Y: Fatal accident occurred March 08, 2019 in Pahokee, Palm Beach County, Florida

The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Miramar, Florida
Piper Aircraft; Vero Beach, Florida
Lycoming Engines; Williamsport, Pennsylvania

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdfg

https://registry.faa.gov/N5894Y 


Location: Pahokee, FL
Accident Number: WPR19FA093
Date & Time: 03/08/2019, 1526 EST
Registration: N5894Y
Aircraft: Piper PA23
Injuries: 5 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - 

On March 8, 2019, about 1526 eastern standard time, a Piper PA 23-250 airplane, N5894Y, impacted a lake during an emergency landing at the Palm Beach County Glades Airport (PHK), Pahokee Florida. The commercial pilot and four passengers were fatally injured, and the airplane was destroyed. The airplane was registered to L-Holding LLC, and operated by the pilot as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident and the flight was operated on an instrument flight rules flight plan. The flight originated from the Tampa International Airport (TPA), Tampa, Florida about 1420 and was destined for North Palm Beach County General Aviation Airport (F45), West Palm Beach, Florida.

The Federal Aviation Administration reported that the pilot declared an emergency to air traffic control and reported a rough running left engine. The pilot further reported that he was going to shut down the left engine and divert to PHK. The controller cleared the pilot to land; the pilot's last transmission was when he reported the airport in sight.

Witnesses reported that their attention was drawn to the airplane when they observed it in a 45o nose and left-wing low rapid descent before it impacted the water.

The airplane was recovered to a secure location for further examination.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Piper
Registration: N5894Y
Model/Series: PA23 250
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: F45, 22 ft msl
Observation Time: 1535 EST
Distance from Accident Site: 25 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 25°C / 15°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Few / 3400 ft agl
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 11 knots / , 110°
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 6500 ft agl
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.14 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: IFR
Departure Point: Tampa, FL (TPA)
Destination: West Palm Beach, FL (F45) 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: 4 Fatal
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 5 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 26.790278, -80.692778 (est)

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email eyewitnessreport@ntsb.gov, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email assistance@ntsb.gov.

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Florida  — Saturday, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office identified the five victims who were killed in a small plane crash into Lake Okeechobee.

Four of the victims worked at Peterson Bernard law firm. The fifth was the pilot, Eduardo Mulet. Mulet was well-known in the aviation community. Mulet was a licensed pilot and flight instructor.

Mulet lived in Palm Beach Gardens with his wife, Cassandra Mateo. The couple did not have any children, but they had many nieces and nephews. Marianne Rodriguez tells WPBF she will miss the fun times with her uncle.

“Yesterday we were planning to take the Brightline, as a matter of fact, to see how it was. We even bought the tickets for today at 11 o’clock,” Rodriguez said.

Mulet leaves behind a community of aviation enthusiasts who will forever be grateful for the time he dedicated to helping others.

Jim Wethington has been a friend of Mulet’s family for over a decade. Saturday was the five-year anniversary of the day that Wethington was able to fly aboard one of Mulet’s planes.

“He said when you get your weight down, we’re going to go flying. That’s what we’re going to do. And it was five years ago today. Five years ago today, we went on that flight,” Wethington said.

Although the family and friends will miss Mulet, his life will always be known to encourage people to soar.

Story and video ➤ https://www.wpbf.com

Eduardo Mulet 45, of West Palm Beach

TAMPA — The five people found dead in an airplane that landed in Lake Okeechobee after taking off from Tampa International Airport on Friday have been identified.

The victims were Eduardo Mulet, 45, of West Palm Beach; Eric Peterson, 73, of Lighthouse Point; Matthew Fiorello, 36, of Palm Beach Gardens; Heather Bridwell, 43, of Jupiter; and Edwin Mortell III, 54, of Stuart. The crash happened at about 3:30 p.m. just north of Pahokee Airport, also known as Palm Beach County Glades Airport, according to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.

The Piper PA-23-250 Aztec C went down 400 yards from shore. The passengers’ bodies were recovered less than three hours later. The cause of the crash has not been determined. The National Transportation Safety Board will be investigating the incident while local authorities handle the death investigation.

Peterson, Fiorello, Bridwell and Mortell were attorneys at Peterson Bernard, a law firm with offices in Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Stuart, according to the firm’s webpage.

Calls to the firm’s main office were not immediately returned.

Mulet was a commercial pilot and owner of Pilotguy Consulting, records show.

“What I hear was that he was flying a two-engine plane and one engine failed,” said Mulet’s wife, Casandra Mateo. “That’s all I know.”

Reached by phone, Mateo said her husband had been flying for decades, everywhere he’s lived from New Jersey to Florida.

“He got his first flying license when he was a teenager, when he was 15,” Mateo said. “He’s been flying nonstop since that time. Flying was his passion.”

A software developer, Mulet always made time to fly, mostly for leisure, rarely for business clients, his wife said.

“He was always, always there for anybody, at any time,” Mateo said. “Everywhere he went he left marks, and in a very, very positive way. He was a leader.”

Mateo said she couldn’t describe the relationship between her husband and the passengers on board, but had heard the attorneys were in Tampa for a business trip.

Bridwell’s husband declined to comment.

The airplane was registered to a Delaware LLC held by The Company Corporation, owned by the Corporation Service Company, headquartered in Wilmington, FAA records show.

On its website, the Corporation Service Company says it is the “world’s leading provider of business, legal, tax, and digital brand services to companies around the globe,” and the partner of nearly 10,000 law firms.

Original article ➤ https://www.tampabay.com

Heather Bridwell, 43, of Jupiter; Matthew Fiorello, 36, of Palm Beach Gardens; Edwin Mortell III, 54, of Stuart; and Eric Peterson, 73, of Lighthouse Point.

The five victims of Friday’s deadly plane crash in Lake Okeechobee were South Florida residents, three of them from Palm Beach County, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office reported.

The wife of crash victim Matthew Fiorello said the plane was en route to the North Palm Beach County Airport, but was diverted to Pahokee after a problem during the flight.

“He was texting me from the plane. He told me he loved me. He told me he loved the girls. He told me he couldn’t talk right now because there was an issue on the plane and they were being diverted and trying to land,” said Rachel Backoff Fiorello, who married Matthew nearly seven years ago. They have two young daughters, ages 5 and 2.

In addition to being a lawyer, Fiorello was a local singer and musician. She said the four attorneys on the flight were good friends in addition to being colleagues at the firm.

“He’s the most loving, giving person. He would do anything for anybody before doing something for himself,” says his wife. “He was an incredible father and husband.”

UPDATE: 2:30 p.m.

Four of the five victims of Friday’s deadly plane crash in Lake Okeechobee were attorneys at the South Florida-based Peterson Bernard law firm. Among them were the law firm’s founder, Eric Peterson, 73.

The firm, which has offices in West Palm Beach, Stuart and Fort Lauderdale, also lists victims Matthew Fiorello, 36, of Palm Beach Gardens, Heather Bridwell, 43, of Jupiter, and Edwin “Ted” Mortell III, 54, of Stuart among its attorneys.

The fifth victim, Eduardo Mulet, 45, of West Palm Beach, was a licensed commercial pilot, who also worked as a computer technician at the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff’s office spokeswoman Teri Barbera said Mulet was not an agency employee but serviced the agency’s computers as an employee of a private contractor.

Peterson, of Lighthouse Point, was one of the firm’s founding partners and oversaw its West Palm Beach office and focused on construction litigation, according to the firm’s website. The firm’s website lists 20 attorneys.

Bridwell, an avid boater with a passion for physical fitness and exercise, lived in Jupiter with her husband, Jason, and their 8-year-old daughter. Jason Bridwell said that Heather and her colleagues at the law firm were returning from a meeting with a client when the crash occurred.

“I’m still trying to process everything,” Jason said. “She has a husband and an 8-year-old daughter that she’s leaving behind. We were a great family.”

UPDATE: The five victims of Friday’s deadly plane crash in Lake Okeechobee were South Florida residents, three of them from Palm Beach County, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office reported Saturday.

The victims were identified as Eduardo Mulet, 45, of West Palm Beach, Matthew Fiorello, 36, of Palm Beach Gardens, Heather Bridwell, 43, of Jupiter, Edwin Mortell III, 54, of Stuart, and Eric Peterson, 73, of Lighthouse Point.

National Transportation Safety Board investigators continued their probe Saturday into a deadly crash of a twin-engine Piper plane into Lake Okeechobee. The aircraft went down Friday afternoon in shallow waters upon its approach to the Pahokee airport, killing five people on board, according to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.

The Piper PA-23-250 Aztec C plane had departed from Sheltair Aviation Services at Tampa International Airport and crashed just north of the Palm Beach County Glades Airport at about 3:30 p.m.

Rescue workers from PBSO’s marine unit and Palm Beach County Fire Rescue found the plane just 400 yards from shore and were able to recover five bodies, a PBSO spokeswoman said. Authorities have not released the names of the victims.

Sheltair Aviation, a private aircraft firm based in Fort Lauderdale, unveiled a $6.5 million executive hangar complex at the Tampa airport less than three weeks ago.

Story and photo gallery ➤ https://www.palmbeachpost.com

Eduardo Mulet 45, of West Palm Beach

PAHOKEE, Florida  —  The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office has released the names of the five people killed in Friday's plane crash near Pahokee Airport.

Deputies say Eduardo Mulet, 45, of West Palm Beach; Eric Peterson, 73, of Lighthouse Point; Matthew Fiorello, 36, of Palm Beach Gardens; Heather Bridwell, 43, of Jupiter; and Edwin Mortell III, 54, of Stuart, were killed after the plane went down around 3:30 p.m into Lake Okeechobee.

The pilot of the plane was Mulet, who also worked at the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office.

Mulet was a licensed commercial pilot, and worked as a computer technician. Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Teri Barbera said Mulet was not an agency employee but serviced the agency’s computers as an employee of a private contractor.

Peterson, Bridwell, Mortell and Firoello all worked for the same law firm, Peterson Bernard. The law firm has offices in Stuart, West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale.

PREVIOUS STORY - Five people were killed Friday when the plane they were in crashed into Lake Okeechobee.

The Federal Aviation Administration said the twin-engine Piper aircraft had left from Tampa International Airport and was on approach to Pahokee Airport when it crashed just before 3:30 p.m.

"I seen it circling. It went around two times," said a witness, Laura Lester. "And it went up in that corner and it didn't come back."

The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office and Palm Beach County Fire Rescue sent divers into the water hoping to rescue survivors.

Initial reports from witnesses were that someone was seen swimming away from the wreckage.

That gave rescuers hope they might find someone alive.

But when they reached the plane, they found all five passengers still on board.

They had all been killed.

The five bodies were recovered and brought back to land.

The identities of the victims have not been released.

The cause of the plane crash remains unclear.

The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating.

Story and video ➤ https://www.wpbf.com

PAHOKEE, Florida — The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office released the identities of five people killed after the plane they were flying in crashed into Lake Okeechobee.

A rescue began Friday afternoon after their Piper PA-23-250 Aztec C aircraft went down about 400 yards from the lake's southeast shore near the Pahokee Airport. It had taken off from Tampa International Airport.

In a news release, the sheriff's office says its marine unit and the Palm Beach County Fire Rescue recovered the bodies of five Florida residents from the plane's fuselage.

They are as follows: Heather Bridwell, 43, of Jupiter; Matthew Fiorello, 36, of Palm Beach Gardens; Edwin Mortell III, 54, of Stuart; Eduardo Mulet, 45, of West Palm Beach; and Eric Peterson, 73, of Lighthouse Point. Bridwell, Fiorello, Mortell and Peterson were all attorneys at Peterson and Bernard. 

The events leading up to the plane crash are not yet known.

Sheriff's office investigators are handling the death investigation while the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board investigate the crash.

Story and video ➤ https://www.wtsp.com

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Will be interesting to see if this is another Florida 134.5 charter operation.

RIP to all the lives lost.

Anonymous said...

RIP and indeed a part 134.5 from the looks of it. A lot of attorneys seem to like those operations.

Sadly the rules part 135 are hard and written in blood. Ignore at your own risk. Especially the rigorous maintenance requirements and layers of accountability plus compulsory AD compliance.

Anonymous said...

Will be interesting to break this down (if SE loss) it sounds like on face of it he had plenty of control of the plane on an SE approach. But perhaps like the Cessna 310R in Santa Ana (abundant video on that one about a year or so ago that crashed/landed somewhat safely on the freeway just feet from runway threshold), as soon as this Aztec dropped the gear to land his ability to hold altitude sufficiently for a stable approach deteriorated? (said he was 400 yrds from airport?? Sure sounds like that 310R again.) No video to show like there was on the 310R. But the Aztec is a non-aerodynamic beat of an airframe anyway (not very aerodynamically clean looking) with only two 235-hp engines and poor SE climb performance. This combined with that 310R video causes me to think that SE-approach procedures in a multi might call for you to not drop flaps or gear till you're practically up on the threshold?? Would love see comments on this from multi-engine drivers.

Unknown said...

Could be. But the 310 has really long gear with huge drag compared to the Aztec. It’s possible the inoperative engine wasn’t feathered, which would make maintaining altitude more difficult. I fly a twin but not an Aztec, but I doubt that even with five on board it was at max gross if it was a day trip.

libertyn jeopardy said...

Praying for all of the families.

Anonymous said...

I'm a "multi-engine driver." YourYo not far from the mark, however each manufacturer prescribes emergency procedures specific to each model. What is important to consider is that performance numbers are established at the hands of bonafide test pilots. Each time you load an airplane to gross weight, or attempt to do a performance-demanding operation, and expect to achieve book numbers, you're betting that you're as good as the test pilot. I don't care to speculate on causes related to the accident, but I am confident the NTSB will include the words "the pilot's failure to..." in it's report.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why experienced pilots can't make a single engine approach. As Bob Hoover said and demonstrated, all an airplane needs is airspeed, it don't care if it has one engine, two engines or no engines. Trade altitude for airspeed and point it at the threshold. Pull the good engine back if it starts to VMC.
It was reported by a witness that this Aztec circled the airport before attempting to land!?!?!

Anonymous said...

Firstly this Aztec had TIO-540 Lycoming's, 250hp Turbo and not 235hp but still, single engine performance on light twins is marginal at best. Even if the pilot does everything right—prop feathered on the failed engine, five degree bank toward the good engine, airspeed maintained at Vyse—the best that can be expected is a couple hundred feet per minute climb rate. If anything is not done just right, it may even be difficult to maintain level flight. It obviously requires excellent flying skills and lots of concentration to pull this off successfully, yet if the left engine fails on a Aztec (yet TBD which engine failed) the pilot is required to use a hand pump to get the landing gear or flaps up or down. There is also an emergency landing gear extension system using high pressure carbon dioxide as a backup if the hand pump doesn’t work, when maintained! The single hydraulic pump on the left engine remained throughout the production of the PA-23, with an auxiliary hydraulic pump on the right engine finally offered as an option on the F-model Aztec. Hearing local a report that 2 attempts to land were witnessed? Hand pumping is a process and not easy to do while flying low and slow on one engine!!! The wreckage is being recovered and many questions will be answered by the time of final report…nonetheless, sad :(

Anonymous said...

5 adults in an Aztec would seem to put is quite close to max gross weight, not knowing how much fuel was onboard. SE performance at that weight would have certainly been minimal, even at sea level. The Aztec is a big of a brick and as another poster said, with only 235hp remaining, the operating engine may have been unable to maintain altitude, especially if the failed engine was not feathered. FWIW, I have a muti-rating, so Im not simply throwing out unqualified speculation.

Anonymous said...

C model Aztec was 250 HP ... Not sure if the turbo models added HP or if it 'normalized' ...

Light twins ... lose 50% of the power and you lose about 80% of your performance.

RIP

Anonymous said...


I guess the law firm couldn't afford a King Air, maybe they should have rented five Cessna 172's.

Anonymous said...


There is no requirement for a multiengine airplane that weighs less than 12,500 lbs. to climb on one engine and most of them won't. Most of them won't even maintain level flight on one engine when near max gross.

MRUSA said...

In over 50 years of flying, I have had two engine failures in twin-engine aircraft and two successful airport landings. Every twin I have ever owned or flown can climb on one engine. There are very few that can’t, but NOT with the landing gear down. Hard to understand why the plane was seen going around the airport twice. An engine out emergency generally requires that you put it down on the first attempt because go-around capability can be non-existent.

Anonymous said...

As a MEI it seems like the old saying having two engines just allows you to fly to the scene of the accident when one quits is more applicable all the time. With a in flight engine failure altitude is always your best friend. Circling the airport in a heavy airplane is crazy. We try and teach the mind set that as soon as you have a engine failure the plane belongs to the insurance company. Get it on the ground in the best controlled manner possible and let the insurance company deal with whats left of the airplane. The goal should always be to walk away and not to save the airplane. If this was a illegal charter than that probably drove the pilots mind set not to bend metal.

Anonymous said...

As a MEI it seems like the old saying having two engines just allows you to fly to the scene of the accident when one quits is more applicable all the time. With a in flight engine failure altitude is always your best friend. Circling the airport in a heavy airplane is crazy. We try and teach the mind set that as soon as you have a engine failure the plane belongs to the insurance company. Get it on the ground in the best controlled manner possible and let the insurance company deal with whats left of the airplane. The goal should always be to walk away and not to save the airplane. If this was a illegal charter than that probably drove the pilots mind set not to bend metal.

Anonymous said...

^^^ agree 100% if you have to keep the gear up to be able to reach the airport then do that ... Let the insurance company pay for the belly landing

Anonymous said...

Preliminary report out: The poster a few up that noted if it was the left engine that failed makes lowering the gear/flaps more challenging while flying appears on target. The final report will tell what position the gear/flaps and associated controls were in along with the left propeller being feathered or not. But this single hydraulic pump on left engine has had many tragic results, this one the father/instructor took out his whole family trying to go-around and didn’t even have the prop left propeller feathered! https://www.ntsb.gov/_layouts/ntsb.aviation/brief2.aspx?ev_id=20050104X00012&ntsbno=CHI05FA049&akey=1
Also amusing is this guy Art Kamm speaking out as an “Aviation Expert” on West Palm Beach News WPTV saying “It actually looks like they lost their right engine…where the green line departs from the blue dash”. https://www.wptv.com/news/region-the-glades/pahokee/ntsb-investigates-what-caused-plane-to-crash-into-lake-okeechobee-killing-5-people ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? By looking at flightpath on FlightAware he can surmise which engine failed? So I looked this guy up and don’t see ANYTHING documenting him as an "Aviation Expert" other than WPTV’s statement as such, and only that he is a pilot in the FAA database and owns a Consulting engineering firm headquartered in Deerfield Beach, Florida. REALLY??? The only thing he correctly stated is “They needed to get that airplane on the ground quick”! And to the other poster, YES, eat it and do a gear up landing and let insurance company own it and most likely ALL would have walked away, albeit shaken…sad

MarcPilot said...

This article studies the liability of what can be most likely an illegal charter operation here:

https://www.ainonline.com/aviation-news/blogs/ainsight-owner-personal-liability-illegal-charter-ops