Profiles of 3 Naples businessmen killed in plane crash; investigation continues

The Piper fixed-wing, single-engine, six-seater plane  registered as N4219R to DHPN Inc. of Naples, was flown from Naples Municipal Airport (KAPF) to Great Harbour Cay (MYBG), according to a flight schedule on flightaware.com. Great Harbour Cay, a major island in the north Berry Islands, is part of the Bahamian Islands.

The Piper fixed-wing, single-engine, six-seater plane registered as N4219R to DHPN Inc. of Naples, was flown from Naples Municipal Airport (KAPF) to Great Harbour Cay (MYBG), according to a flight schedule on flightaware.com. Great Harbour Cay, a major island in the north Berry Islands, is part of the Bahamian Islands.

A Piper PA-32 Cherokee Six is a six or seven seat lightweight plane, with fixed landing gear, which is believed to have crashed on a return flight to Florida from the Bahamas.

A Piper PA-32 Cherokee Six is a six or seven seat lightweight plane, with fixed landing gear, which is believed to have crashed on a return flight to Florida from the Bahamas.

Video from NBC-2

J.P. Antonmattei profile: He left legacy of commitment to community, family and friends say

Andrew Peterson profile: Among three on plane that crashed in ocean, he was gung-ho about new project

David Howell profile: Businessman, father and good pilot

As authorities continued searching the waters off the Bahamas on Tuesday for the bodies of three Naples businessmen believed dead in a weekend plane crash, the mystery remained: What went wrong with the plane?

Presumed dead were J.P. Antonmattei, 42, who has been serving as president of the Naples Area Board of Realtors; David Howell, 45, an accomplished pilot who owned Naples Patio and Andrew Peterson, 27, a Wisconsin transplant who wanted to get involved in an investment project in the Bahamas.

Bahamas Department of Civil Aviation inspectors were at the crash site near the Bahamas off the northeast coast of the Bimini Bay Resort searching for bodies and removing the wrecked plane Tuesday, said Walter Evans, acting manager for Flight Standards Inspectorate of the Bahamas Civil Aviation Department.

During Tuesday’s search, officials found a wallet and human remains, said Krystal Knowles, spokeswoman for the Bahamas Information Services, declining to elaborate on whose wallet was located.

The aircraft was removed from the water Tuesday for an investigation to begin on what caused the crash, officials said.

Officials said it wasn’t known when the search for the remains would end.

A friend of the pilot said five people had flown over to the Bahamas late last week, but two stayed there while the other three left Sunday to fly back to Fort Lauderdale.

On Facebook, user names Patrick Naasz and Sasha identified themselves as the couple who remained in Nassau after the three Naples men left for Florida.

The Piper Cherokee Six aircraft, a single-engine, six-seat plane, was registered as N4219R to a Naples business.

Other pilots familiar with the aircraft said it’s safe to fly.

“A Piper Cherokee has a very good reputation of being a safe airplane,” charter airplane captain and pilot John Swasey said.

That specific plane is forgiving and stable, Swasey added, noting the airplane can only be as safe as it is maintained for the pilot and owner.

Without knowing the specific details of the flight and conditions, Swasey said it is hard to say if weather played a factor in the crash.

Pilot John Villada, who was been flying for about 25 years and is owner of Advanced Aviation Sales Inc., echoed Swasey about the aircraft’s safety.

Because of the plane’s fixed gear, Villada said, it would be difficult to land on water.

Villada, who has done that same trip on his single-engine plane about 30 times, said it’s a safe trip and he would do it again.

Howell, the pilot and co-owner, had three sons, ages 8, 16 and 20, and had just turned 45. He had been flying since 1995.

Antonmattei, who was described by acquaintances as Howell’s best friend, recently became president of the Naples Area Board of Realtors (NABOR) and had been an agent with Amerivest Realty since 2008. His Facebook page shows he turned 42 in December.

Peterson was struggling to find enough work in Southwest Florida, acquaintances said. That’s why he was so gung-ho about getting involved in an investment project in the Bahamas.

The group had gone together to the Bahamas to take a look at an investment project there.

POSTED EARLIER

The search for three Naples businessmen continues today.

Bahamian Department of Civil Aviation inspectors were at the site near the Bahamas searching for bodies and removing the wrecked plane, said Walter Evans, acting manager for Flight Standards Inspectorate of the Bahamian Department of Civil Aviation.

During Tuesday's search, officials found a wallet and some human remains.

After it was first reported that one body had been found, Coast Guard spokesman David Schuhlein said they didn’t recover a body in the plane crash near the Bahamas.

The Coast Guard was an assisting agency, but did not do any of the search, Schuhlein said.

The plane that crashed is a Piper Cherokee Six aircraft, a single-engine, six-seater plane. It was registered as N4219R to a Naples business.

"A Piper Cherokee has a very good reputation of being a safe airplane," charter airplane captain and pilot John Swasey said.

That specific plane is very forgiving and stable, but Swasey said the airplane can only be as safe as the pilot and owner maintain it in safe conditions.

Without knowing the specific details of the flight, Swasey said it was hard to say if weather played a factor in the crash.

Read earlier version of this story and readers' comments about it

Read news partner NBC-2's report

Connect with Tracy X. Miguel at www.naplesnews.com/staff/tracy_x_miguel/

© 2010 Naples Daily News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 13

faulk511 writes:

Very very sad to hear this!

carolann writes:

Lost my husband to an accident where he just disappeared. So sorry you have to experience this awful pain. My prayers are with you.

RangeRat writes:

I've flown the Cherokee Six and also the newer, retractable gear version called the Cherokee Lance. Both are good aircraft, as well as "dynamically stable" which means when you get them properly trimmed up in cruise flight, you can pretty much fly them "hands off". The "Six" is a much older version aircraft and older Piper low-wing aircraft sometimes develop small cracks in the center wing spar that can sometimes cause a structural failure in the wings. Nothing worse than that...a pilot's nightmare. My condolances to all involved.

beetlejuice writes:

Weather conditions??? Seasoned pilot, or not??? Flight plan??? Drinking before flying??? Maybe. RIP sadly.

cheetah143 writes:

This is a very sad story and I pray for the families and that they can make it through this...BUT, why show a picture of the three men hours before taking off with drinks in there hands??? That doesn't make it look good. Did the pilot have to much to drink??

May the three men RIP!

heavyheart writes:

in response to redfishrox:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO BE REMINDED QUIT READING THE NEWS!!!! BEING THE MOTHER OF ONE THE VICTIMS THE NEWS HELPS!! WE WILL FOREVER BE REMINDED

JaysusChrist writes:

No offense intended, but Mr Howell appears to be holding a pina colada or some sort of pineapple drink in his hand. Should we run the credit card shown in the picture taken "hours before the crash" and see if the drink in question had alcohol in it?

elnuestros writes:

Can we assume that whatever bit of the out islands these "investors" had targeted is now "safe," at least for a while, from the kind of "improvement" Midwesterners typically introduce?

SYBRAO writes:

in response to heavyheart:

IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO BE REMINDED QUIT READING THE NEWS!!!! BEING THE MOTHER OF ONE THE VICTIMS THE NEWS HELPS!! WE WILL FOREVER BE REMINDED

My thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family. We recently lost a loved one and reading about him and what a wonderful person he was truly meant the world to us. It has helped us knowing how many people's lives he touched. The negative blogs being posted are from ignorant people who have never had the misfortune of losing a loved one so tragically. May you find comfort in the wonderful memories you have.

heavyheart writes:

in response to SYBRAO:

My thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family. We recently lost a loved one and reading about him and what a wonderful person he was truly meant the world to us. It has helped us knowing how many people's lives he touched. The negative blogs being posted are from ignorant people who have never had the misfortune of losing a loved one so tragically. May you find comfort in the wonderful memories you have.

Thank you for the comments you are so right. It is unfortunate people have to make negative blogs, I hope they never have to personally experienced this pain.

RaysFan1223 writes:

R.I.P. Pete and everyone else. Terrible terrible news. No one could have ever imagined this happening. We'll miss ya bud. Remember the next time you post on here you could be posting about someone you knew, were related to, or loved.....

rickgraham writes:

for those of you who keep making comments about the pilot drinking, get a life. He was a responsible pilot and he would not have drank before he flew home. Dave was like a father to me and his sons are my brothers, the people who really knew dad know how great of a man he was. and those of you that are being jerks your the ones who missed out. you missed out on meeting one of the greatest men ill ever know...Dad RIP

BoulderBill (Inactive) writes:

If the pilot had been drinking alcohol as the picture apparently shows, the corporate attorneys for piper aircraft will be the only winners in this entire tragedy.

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