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Man killed in Florida beach plane crash on wedding anniversary

By Barbara Liston

(Reuters) - The U.S. Army sergeant killed by a plane that crashed on a Florida beach was there celebrating his ninth wedding anniversary with family and friends, according to one of his last Facebook postings.

Ommy Irizarry, 36, based at Fort Stewart in Georgia, died on Sunday after the plane struck him and his 9-year-old daughter, Oceana, while they were walking on Caspersen Beach in Venice.

Oceana Irizarry remained in critical condition Monday at a children’s hospital in St. Petersburg, according to the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office.

"Today, nine years ago, I tied my life to my beautiful wife, Rebecca Irizarry. Wow, how fast time has passed! They say time flies when you are having fun," Irizarry posted Sunday on Facebook.

"Thank you for being with me through thick and thin. I love you with all my heart, mi Roma. I am very happy and can't wait to see what the next 100 have in store for us. I love you, Becci," he wrote.

Replies from his friends through the day began with “Happy anniversary!!!” postings but ended with “RIP.” The tribute to his wife and marriage appears to be the last comment he wrote on Facebook.

Irizarry and his daughter were struck by a single-engine Piper plane as it made an emergency landing on the beach after the pilot issued a distress call to the nearby municipal airport.

According to one 911 caller, Ommy Irizarry, originally from Puerto Rico, was alive and alert at first.

“He’s still breathing ... there is serious bleeding,” said the caller, who broke down sobbing.

Another witness told the 911 operator that Oceana Irizarry was unconscious with a rapid pulse and difficulty breathing.

Others on the beach, including two other children and Irizarry's wife, were not injured. Ommy Irizarry's mother suffered an apparent cardiac arrest and was rushed to the hospital but was later released, the sheriff’s office reported.

The pilot Karl Kokomoor, 57, and his one passenger, David Theen, 60, both from the nearby city of Englewood, were uninjured. The sheriff’s office said it had turned the investigation over to the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board.

(Reporting by Barbara Liston in Orlando, Florida; Editing by Eric Beech)

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