Jupiter pilot reported feeling ill before plane crashed off West Palm
By Nancy L. Othón
The Sun-Sentinel
September 16, 2003

Before crashing into the Atlantic Ocean, a 66-year-old Jupiter man at the controls of a single-engine plane Sunday afternoon told air-traffic controllers he was experiencing symptoms of a heart attack and returning to Palm Beach International Airport.

A day after the crash, neither the body of Donald W. Short nor the Mooney M20J he was flying from West Palm Beach to Fort Pierce has been recovered. The Coast Guard searched an area about 12 miles east of Jupiter for more than six hours Sunday before suspending its search, said spokesman Ryan Doss.

The plane is submerged in 500 feet of water, and Coast Guard divers are not outfitted to search that deep, Doss said.

Any recovery effort now will be up to Short's family and insurance company, he said.

About 1:30 p.m., Short told air-traffic controllers he had chest pains, a headache and a history of heart conditions, Doss said.

"He said he was turning around to come back," Doss said.

Shortly after, the four-seat plane crashed into the water. He was thought to be the only person on board.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.

"Hopefully the airplane can be recovered so we can do an investigation of the wreckage," said NTSB investigator Tim Monville.

Monville has requested transcripts of communications between the air traffic control tower and Short as well as the Coast Guard's search and rescue report.

Nancy L. Othón can be reached at nothon@sun-sentinel.com or 561-243-6633.