Four of the five people killed in a small plane crash in Lake Okeechobee were attorneys from a South Florida law firm.
The four passengers were attorneys at the 20-attorney Peterson Bernard defense law firm. The firm’s website was updated to place black ribbons on the profiles of the attorneys killed in Friday’s crash and say “in loving memory.”
The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office on Saturday identified the dead as pilot Eduardo Mulet of West Palm Beach and attorneys Eric Peterson of Lighthouse Point, Edwin Mortell of Stuart, Heather Bridwell of Jupiter and Matthew Fiorello of Palm Beach Gardens.
The sheriff’s office said the bodies were recovered from the plane’s fuselage by divers from the sheriff’s office and the fire department.
The twin-engine Piper aircraft went down Friday about 400 yards from the lake’s southeast shore, just north of the Palm Beach County Glades Airport in Pahokee, according to the sheriff’s office.
Records show the plane took off from Tampa International Airport on a flight to North Palm Beach County Airport west of Palm Beach Gardens.
The plane was diverted to the Pahokee airport because there was “an issue” with the aircraft, Fiorello’s wife told the Palm Beach Post, citing a text message sent shortly before the crash.
The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board were investigating the crash, and a contractor was hired to recover the wreckage.
Relatives told the Post that the lawyers were returning from a meeting with a prospective client.
Peterson, 73, was a co-founder of the firm that opened in 1981; managing partner of its West Palm Beach office; and a personal injury, malpractice and employment litigator.
Mortell, 54, was managing partner of the firm’s Stuart office, a personal injury and malpractice litigator, former president of the Martin County Bar Association and a Pine School board member.
Bridwell, 43, was a shareholder in the firm’s Stuart office, practiced insurance defense since 2000, served two terms as president of the Martin County chapter of the Florida Association for Women Lawyers and was a member of the Florida Bar’s law related education committee.
Fiorello, 36, was a West Palm Beach shareholder, defense litigator and former Broward assistant public defender.
The law firm has offices in Fort Lauderdale, Stuart and West Palm Beach.