HOLIDAY, Fla. – Former Major League Baseball pitcher Roy Halladay died Tuesday after his plane crashed in the Gulf of Mexico, the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office confirmed in a press conference.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Coast Guard, Pasco Fired Department and Pasco Sheriff’s Office all responded to the scene after a 911 call came in from a nearby residence.
The tail number matched the Icon A5 plane owned by the CY Young Award winner and eight-time All-Star. His body was recovered near the plane, according to officials.
Sheriff Chris Nocco called Halladay “the most down-to-earth person” and a close friend of the department. The 40-year-old ex-MLB star had just attended their Fishing for Families tournament last Friday.
Nocco said that “the worst case scenario happened and it breaks our hearts.”
Halladay, an avid pilot, was featured in an October 12 article on ICON Aircraft’s website that shows Halladay posing next to his ICON A5, calling him a “regular … renter and longtime deposit holder.
The article quotes the Halladay saying:
“I’ve been dreaming about flying since I was a boy but was only able to become a pilot once I retired from baseball. I’ve owned other aircraft, but no aircraft embodies the adventure or captured the dream of flying like the A5. Not only is it the safest and easiest aircraft I’ve ever flown, it is hands-down the most fun. The beaches, lakes, and waterways my family and I get to explore around Florida are mind-blowing. Words don’t do justice to what the A5 allows us to experience. Even my wife, who used to be uncomfortable in small planes, now asks where we should take the A5 for the weekend.”
It’s not yet clear what caused the fatal crash, pending a full investigation. The sheriff’s office is asking people to respect his family and allow them to grieve in peace.