Polk County Sheriffs Office Press Release
The Polk County Sheriff’s Office responded to a downed aircraft this afternoon, and assisted with rescuing the victims. Preliminary information so far is as follows:
Around 1:35 p.m. on Friday, September 28, 2018, the PCSO ECC received a 9-1-1 call in reference to a small aircraft crash in Lake Hancock, in the unincorporated area of Bartow. The nearest roadways are the 2000 block of US Hwy 98 South, Farm Road, and Smith Lane.
PCSO patrol deputies, the PCSO helicopter, and specialty units from the Agricultural Crimes Unit, including an airboat and a shallow water surface drive boat, responded along with Polk County Fire Rescue. Together they were able to reach the aircraft, and transport the two victims to Lakeland Regional Medical Health Center. The victims have non-life-threatening injuries.
PCSO notified the NTSB and the FAA, who also responded to investigate the cause of the crash. Florida Fish and Wildlife responded to transport FAA and NTSB investigators and PCSO Crime Scene Investigators to the scene of the crashed aircraft.
The aircraft is a Piper, tail number N4592X, registered to the pilot, 70-year-old William Gonzalez, Jr. of Valrico. He’s being admitted overnight at LRHMC. His grandson and passenger, 21-year-old Joseph Berninghaus of Tampa, is being treated and released. They took off from Boca Raton today and were heading to the Lakeland airport.