We are sad to learn of the death of our friend Jose Wejebe who died in a plane crash today. Kate and I have so many fond memories of our trips to Australia with him and the crew. We are deeply saddened by his passing.
EVERGLADES CITY –
Jose Wejebe, the host of a popular TV fishing show, was killed in the Everglades City plane crash Friday, according to the Collier County Sheriff’s Office.
Crews on scene say the plane’s tail number is N548SF. And according to the FAA, the aircraft with that number is registered to Wejebe.
Officials we spoke to say he was flying in an experimental, single-engine aircraft. The type is a CA8-SF.
Former Collier EMS Chief Jeff Page was chartering a boat when the crash happened. He said he saw the aircraft take off from the Everglades City Airport after 4:30 p.m. Friday and then felt the winds shift.
He said he thinks the plane got caught in a crosswind before hitting the ground and exploding.
“The plane popped up and it looked like it got its nose too high into the wind and it almost put it straight vertical,” he said.
Page went on to describe the actual crash.
“The initial explosion of when it hit, there was no way anyone could survive it – no way anyone could even approach the plane,” Page said. “It immediately burst into flames.”
The intense explosion sent shockwaves through the otherwise quiet community.
“I had never seen anything like hat happen in my life. I panicked,” said Everglades City resident Charlotte Ledford. “The smoke was horrible – one big huge gust of smoke that totally engulfed the whole area.”
Wejebe was the host of the show, Spanish Fly – a saltwater fishing show on the Outdoor Channel and formerly ESPN.
The Outdoor Channel released a statement on Friday night stating, “It is with great sorrow and a heavy heart as we mourn the loss of an important member of the Outdoor Channel family tonight…the entire Outdoor Channel family is shocked, saddened and stunned.”
On Wejebe’s bio page within the TV shows website it states, “In the present day, Jose enjoys his new passion of flying private aircraft.”
Friends of Wejebe say he was in the area for the past week taping an episode of his show on Ten Thousand Islands.
Fans mourning the loss are already sharing their thoughts on his Facebook page.
The Everglades Airpark is located at 650 E.C. Airpark Road in Everglades City. It sits immediately southwest of the Big Cypress National Preserve, and is surrounded on three sides by the waters of Everglades National Park.
The FAA is still investigating the specifics of the crash. The National Transportation Safety Board is leading the investigation, looking into factors like weather and the plane’s mechanics to find out what caused the crashed.
They say a report will be released within ten days. A full investigation could take a year