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Coast Guard Suspends Search For Missing Couple After Finding Plane Crash Wreckage Off Big Pine Key

MIAMI (CBSMiami) -- The U.S. Coast Guard has suspended the search for two people in a small plane crash in the lower Florida Keys.

Monroe County Sheriff's office divers recovered two pieces of a plane on the ocean floor, approximately 15 miles north of Big Pine Key. The tail number matched that of the reported missing aircraft.

couple on missing plane
Ali Tufo and her boyfriend Tommy. The Coast Guard is searching for their small plane off the Florida Keys. (Credit: Samantha Tufo)

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Alexandra Tufo and Thomas Campana," said Cmdr. Lindsey Seniuk, search and rescue mission coordinator, Coast Guard District Seven. "This was a challenging case, and it made the decision to suspend that much harder after our partners found the debris field. The MCSO divers are the experts in this new phase of the search, and our crews will be ready if our assistance is requested."

Ali Tufo was visiting South Florida from New York City.  She and her boyfriend Tommy left Palm Beach County Airport in the Vans RV-12 plane on Sunday, then disappeared.

"My cousin took off, 9:30 in the morning," said her cousin Samantha Tufo. She was "with her boyfriend. He was the pilot. And shortly after that they pinged their plane 400 feet above water and that's the last they heard from them," she said on Thursday.

Coast Guard crews began searching for the overdue aircraft on Tuesday.

Missing Plane Pieces Found
A Monroe County Sheriff's Office diver holds a piece of aircraft debris from the ocean floor 15 miles north of Big Pine Key, Florida, March 3, 2022. (Photo credit: U.S. Coast Guard photo by Station Key West)

The family was told radar indicates the plane lost altitude quickly while passing through a storm cell.

"The plane was at 1,089 feet above the water at 9:59 am. 2 seconds later it was at 600 feet and that was right after they went through a cell of bad weather," she said.

Crews from multiple agencies searched for more than 72 hours.

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