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Four lawyers, pilot ID'd in fatal plane crash into Florida lake

By Allen Cone
Five people died in a plane crash into South Florida's Lake Okeechobee in Palm Beach County. Google Maps screenshot
Five people died in a plane crash into South Florida's Lake Okeechobee in Palm Beach County. Google Maps screenshot

March 9 (UPI) -- The five people killed in a plane crash into South Florida's Lake Okeechobee included four attorneys with the same law firm and the pilot.

The bodies were pulled by divers from the twin-engine Piper PA-23, commonly known as an Aztec plane, on Friday afternoon.

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Eduardo Mulet, 45, of West Palm Beach, was a commercial pilot and a computer technician contractor with the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office, which released the names Saturday, spokeswoman Teri Barbera told WPBF-TV.

The four passengers were members of Peterson Bernard law firm: Eric Peterson, 73, of Lighthouse Point; Matthew Fiorello, 36, of Palm Beach Gardens; Heather Bridwell, 43, of Jupiter; and Edwin Mortell III, 54, of Stuart.

The law firm, which specializes in risk management, alternative dispute resolution and litigation management, was founded in 1981, according its website. The firm has offices in Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Stuart, and 20 attorneys were pictured on the website.

Officials in Tampa told the Sun Sentinel the flight was a charter that had departed from Tampa International Airport's Sheltair Aviation Services and was headed to North Palm Beach County General Aviation airport.

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At around 3:22 p.m. it was on its way down, according to Flightaware.com.

"The airplane was over Lake Okeechobee when it appears to have experienced engine problems," Robert Katz, a commercial pilot and certified flight instructor who has been flying for 38 years, told the Sun Sentinel. "The direction of the flight changes abruptly from southeast to south to west to southeast again and then east again and then it disappears."

The aircraft crashed as it approached Pahokee Airport. The plane landed about 400 yards from shore in shallow water.

"I seen it circling. It went around two times," Laura Lester told WPBF-TV. "And it went up in that corner and it didn't come back."

The office's Violent Crimes Division, the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board were investigating the crash.

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