A phone call Monday from Dr. Larry Lidahl, who partnered with Dr. Pat Cummings at Sheridan Eye Care for 25 years, revealed that Cummings, who had moved to Florida about six years ago, died in a plane crash over the weekend.
A St. Johns County, FL Sheriff's Office spokesman who reached the crash scene on Sunday described a scattered debris field in a heavily wooded area.
A flight club to which Cummings belonged was flying Saturday afternoon from Putnam County, when one plane veered away for lunch in St. Augustine, but never made it. Piloting the small plane was 59-year-old Michael Harris of Jacksonville. Cummings, age 56, had dropped off his plane and joined Harris to make the trip to St. Augustine. Sgt. Chuck Mulligan said Cummings' wife became concerned and contacted an area airport.
A pilot with the Fish and Wildlife Commission overheard the conversation, and recommended she report the missing pilots to the FAA. The FWC pilot then flew to Putnam County to meet with the flight club members who were also prepared to search for their friends.
As they flew over the Northwest portion of St. Johns County, they noticed the wreckage in a wooded area. As the search team reached the ground, they noticed the plane scattered in several pieces and confirmed both men on board had died.
Multiple agencies, including the FAA, are investigating.
Dr. Cummings was a highly-regarded and often-honored optometrist and involved member of the Sheridan community, as well as a distinguished alumni at Sheridan College.