A 10-year-old girl was safe at a friend’s house when her family was killed in a plane crash on Saturday.
Christian Kath, 42, was flying with his wife Misty, 43, and their 12-year-old daughter Lily when their rented aircraft crashed off the coast of Florida, according to authorities. The bodies of Misty and Lily were recovered, while the search for Christian, who remains missing, has since been called off.
During an interview with Australian outlet 7News, Christian’s father said that the Queensland couple’s youngest daughter was at a sleepover the night of the crash.
“She was trying to text and call her mum and sister in the morning [asking] when were they coming to pick her up,” he told the outlet.
The pilot’s father said that the family, who had lived in the United States for several years, were headed back home to St Petersburg following a “sunset dinner” in Venice at the time of the crash.
Although his son “wasn’t a long-time, seasoned pilot,” his father told the outlet that he didn’t think Christian would have knowingly put his family in danger.
“Christian was not a risk-taker, in any way, shape or form — and not one to push the boundaries in that sort of way, at all,” he said. “Who knows what went wrong.”
Federal Aviation Administration records show that Christian earned his license on July 21, according to the ABC station WWSB.
After making his first solo flight back in May, Christian shared that he was looking forward to taking his family on little trips.
“I flew solo for the first time today! Felt so proud to finally achieve something I’ve been wanting to do since I was 8 years old.” he wrote in a social media post dated May 21.
“Thanks for putting up with my early morning lessons and late night studying,” he added in a warm message to his wife. “It will all feel worth while when we can fly to the Keys for a weekend away with Lily and Harper soon.”
In the comments section, Misty wrote that she was “so proud” and couldn’t “wait for all our flying adventures.”
The single-engine plane Christian was flying crashed shortly after taking off at 7:30 p.m. from the Venice Municipal Airport in Florida on Saturday, the FAA said in a statement previously obtained by PEOPLE.
The following morning, recreational boaters found the body of an adult woman in the water about 2.5 miles west of Venice Beach, per the Venice Police Department. Their daughter’s body was found in the wreckage of the plane.
An investigation into the cause of the crash by the FAA is ongoing.
The family was formally identified by authorities on Tuesday.
The following day, police announced that the search for Christian had been called off.
“After consultation with the U.S. Coast Guard, the search for the missing male pilot, Christian Kath, has been discontinued at this time,” they wrote in a statement, noting that they’d combed through over 2,000 square nautical miles.
However, they advised boaters “to be aware of the possibility of sighting remains or small aircraft debris.” Should anyone see anything, they’re asked to “immediately contact the Coast Guard using marine radio on channel 16.”
Christian’s father said that “the world will be a poorer place” without his son.
“Christian and Misty had a lovely family,” he told 7News. “He really will be missed.”
Seems like flying in small planes is risky. I personally know of other cases that never made the news. A risk factor is inexperienced pilots.