Two members of a Fort Stewart family, 9-year-old Oceana Irizarry and her father, Sgt. 1st Class Ommy Irizarry, 36, have died from injuries sustained in a freak accident Sunday on a Florida beach.
He died Sunday apparently on Casperan Beach where the accident occurred and the girl passed Monday evening at All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, according to various media reports.
They were on a family vacation, celebrating the sergeant’s ninth wedding anniversary with Rebecca Irizarry.
In a message on gofundme.com, family friend, Rhonda Ruesch, described the soldier as consummate family man.
“I have had the distinct pleasure in spending time with him and his family, and speak from the heart when I say he was funny, had a contagious smile and laugh, and there was no doubt the love and adoration he felt for his wife Rebecca, daughters Oceana and Ava, and his son Ommy,” Ruesch wrote.
The accident occurred just before 3 p.m. when a plane, piloted by Karl Kokomoor, 57, of Englewood, Fla., ran into problems. News reports say the pilot informed air traffic controllers at a nearby airport that he could not make it there and was putting down in the beach near Venice.
A news release from Fort Stewart says officials there were informed that the sergeant and his daughter were hit by the plane.
Irizarry at the time was part of the Warrior Transition Unit, a battalion at Fort Stewart that helps wounded service members get well enough to either go back to active service or transition out of the Army and into civilian life.
Before his time at the WTU, he was a platoon sergeant for Bravo Company, 26thBrigade Support Battalion, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team when Spc. Tim Wellman first came to Fort Stewart in 2011.
“He was an outstanding guy, he really was,” Wellman said. “He was always happy. He was always there to help people. He led by example in every way. He would never ask anyone to do something that he wouldn’t or couldn’t do himself.”
After a year at Fort Stewart, Wellman’s grandmother went into critical condition and he needed help getting emergency leave so he could go to her. Irizarry came in on a Sunday night to help him with the necessary paperwork. “He was just always there, always willing to help,” he said.
Along with being an outgoing soldier and positive impact on everyone around him, Wellman said Irizarry made sergeant first class in 11 years.
“That was a sign of his leadership. They don’t just hand that stuff out. It’s earned not given,” Wellman said. “And that was something that he did. He earned his keep every step of the way and the Army community as a whole has lost a very, very valuable asset to the Army.”
Irizarry was a family man. Many of his recent Facebook photos show him with family, smiles on everyone’s face.
Wellman said outside of work you could always see him involved with his family, especially his children. “His family was very loving and very supportive and he loved and supported his family very much.”
In the Fort Stewart news release, post commander Maj. Gen. Mike Murray said the tragedy has effected the whole community.
“This is a heart-wrenching situation, especially losing a loved one while on vacation to celebrate a family milestone. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Irizarry family,” Murray said.