The death of two children, their father and a pilot has been described as a “terrible incident” as the plane at the centre of the joyride tragedy is recovered near Brisbane.
Investigators from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau have begun collecting evidence after the operation in “quite inaccessible” mangroves off Scarborough, following the crash on Sunday morning.
The wreckage is being taken to a secure location at the Redcliffe Aerodrome where investigators will try and recover specific components to send to Canberra for analysis.
Recorded data, weather information, and pilot and maintenance records will also be examined, and ATSB investigators have begun interviewing witnesses and those involved.
The Rockwell Commander 114 single-engine light aircraft crashed into the water near the shoreline shortly after take-off, coming to rest upside down. There were no survivors.
Quarry, mining and forestry supply business Lincom Group paid tribute to its founder who lost his life in the crash.
“We are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of Roy Watterson, our chairman and founder, along with Chris Mocanu, our National Hire Fleet Coordinator and his two children,” it said in a Facebook post on Monday.
“The loss has been deeply felt across the entire Lincom team.”
The children were aged 10 and nine, police confirmed.
Queensland MP Stirling Hinchliffe, whose electorate of Sandgate is near the crash site north of Brisbane, led tributes on behalf of the state government on Monday.
“Obviously all of the appropriate investigations will be undertaken … and we hope that we can get to the bottom of what might have caused this awful, terrible incident,” he said on Monday.
Inspector Craig White said the pilot’s family at the aerodrome became aware of the crash after they began looking at social media when the single-engine, four-seater plane failed to return.
“There are a number of family of the pilot who were at the Redcliffe Aerodrome at the time of the accident,” he said on Sunday.
“I understand it was a bit of a family day … a family joyride.”
The ATSB is expected to publish preliminary findings in the next six to eight weeks with a final report to follow.