VENICE, Fla. – Two couples from Indiana died after a small plane crashed into the Gulf of Mexico Wednesday night.

The plane went down around 9:30 p.m. about a half-mile off the Venice Fishing Pier, according to Venice Fire Rescue. It had taken off from Venice Municipal Airport.

Capt. Andy Leisenring with the Venice Police Department said Thursday that the Piper PA-32R was occupied by four people. William Lumpkin, 64, and Patricia Lumpkin, 68, both from Fishers, were killed, as were Rick Beaver, 60, and Bethe Beaver, 57, both from Noblesville.

Rick and Bethe Beaver (provided by family)

Several witnesses observed the crash from the pier and called 911.

The bodies of the two men were discovered Wednesday night, along with a debris field. Crews were unable to find the plane or the other passengers until shortly before noon Thursday.

Divers discovered the plane’s wreckage at a depth of about 23 feet. Family members have been notified.

The four had flown from St. Petersburg and arrived in Venice at around 5 p.m. Wednesday, Leisenring said. They had dinner with some friends at a restaurant and then departed.

William Lumpkin was the pilot, investigators said; Patricia Lumpkin worked as a realtor. Bethe Beaver co-owned Indiana Elite Cheer & Tumbling and Rick Beaver was president of Beaver Construction Management, according to their LinkedIn pages.

The crash is under investigation by the FAA, National Transportation Safety Board, Venice Fire Rescue and Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office.

The NTSB said it will weigh several factors when looking into the crash:

Part of the investigation will be to request radar data, weather information, air traffic control communication, maintenance records and the pilot’s medical records. NTSB investigators will look at the human, machine and environment as the outline of the investigation. 

The agency said investigations into fatal crashes typically take between 12 and 24 months to complete.

According to WFLA, a small plane went down under similar circumstances in December 2022, killing a family of three.