Beloved fishing TV show host killed in tragic plane crash

  • He was alone in the Comp Air 8 plane when it fell from the sky
  • Smoke could be seen up to two miles away

By Laura Cox

08:41 EST, 7 April 2012  | 08:41 EST, 7 April 2012

A single-engine plane crashed in Naples on Friday afternoon killing its pilot, the host of a popular fishing TV show.

Spanish Fly presenter Jose Wejebe, of Florida Keys, died when his kit plane plunged into a field near the runway shortly after take-off from Everglades Airpak.

The plane departed to the north but authorities said they do not know exactly where it was headed.

Tragic: Spanish Fly presenter Jose Wejebe, of Florida Keys, died when his kit plane plunged into a field near the runway shortly after take-off from Everglades Airpak

Tragic: Spanish Fly presenter Jose Wejebe, of Florida Keys, died when his kit plane plunged into a field near the runway shortly after take-off from Everglades Airpak

It fell from the sky at around 4.45pm, landing in privately owned land next to the public airport’s runway. Officials have not yet determined a cause.

The carnage could not be seen from the airport terminal, but smoke from the crash was visible up to two miles away. A witness described it as looking like a house on fire.

Wejebe, 54, was alone on the Comp Air 8, a kit plane that can seat six adults and two children.

No other casualties were reported at the airstrip, which was unstaffed at the time.

The host was known for his extensive travels chasing big fish, which took him from the Gulf of Mexico to the Galapagos, and had a strong following in the fishing community – one of his social networking pages has 66,000 followers.

Solo: Wejebe, 54, was alone on the Comp Air 8, a kit plane that can seat six adults and two children

Solo: Wejebe, 54, was alone on the Comp Air 8, a kit plane that can seat six adults and two children

His ex-wife, Lynne Calero, told the Naples News: ‘It’s awful. He was very close to his family. It’s a real waste.’

His only child, Kristin Wejebe, 28, recently filmed a father-daughter fishing show with him.

‘It was very important to her to be able to share that,’ said Calero, Kristin’s mother. ‘She was so proud.’

Wejebe was born in Cuba, where he lived for a short time before his family fled to Miami after Fidel Castro’s revolution. At the age of eight he learned to fish alongside his father.

A teenager Wejebe bought his first boat with the money he made working at a gas station and became a fishing guide in South Florida.

He made it into the mainstream when the first episode of Spanish Fly aired on ESPN-2 in 1995, following him on fishing expeditions. A second show, Vida del Mar, followed on ESPN in 2001.

Popular: The host was known for his extensive travels chasing big fish, which took him from the Gulf of Mexico to the Galapagos, and had a strong following in the fishing community

Popular: The host was known for his extensive travels chasing big fish, which took him from the Gulf of Mexico to the Galapagos, and had a strong following in the fishing community

The airpark where the crash happened is on 29 acres on the southwest end of Everglades City. It sees about 5,000 flights a year.

While Southwest Florida has seen several plane crashes in recent years, few have been fatal. Of four crashes in 2008, a total of 12 pilots and passengers survived in three separate crashes.

In the fourth plane crash in December of 2008, 74-year-old Benjamin Arthur Simpson of Naples was killed when his Cessna 172 crashed off the coast of Goodland near Cape Romano

 

This entry was posted in Fishing News, Florida Keys Fishing, Key Largo Fishing, Key Largo News, The Florida Keys and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.
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