Authorities identify pilot killed when banner-towing plane crashed off St. Petersburg

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ST. PETERSBURG, Florida — Authorities have identified the pilot of a small banner-towing plane that crashed into the waters off St. Petersburg.

Police spokesman Mike Puetz says 70-year-old Donald Thomasson died Sunday afternoon when the single-seat was Piper PA23 aircraft crashed near Albert Whitted Airport.

The plane belongs to Fort Lauderdale-based Aerial Banners Incorporated. It was completely submerged in about 25 feet of murky water.

Puetz says divers found Thomasson's body still strapped into the cockpit seat. An autopsy is pending.

Federal aviation authorities are investigating the crash.

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