Former MLB pitcher Roy Halladay was killed in a plane crash off the coast of Florida on Tuesday afternoon, authorities said.
The Pasco Sheriff's Office said it received a call of a small plane down north of Bailey's Bluff in Holiday, northwest of Tampa, at 12:06 p.m. The ICON A5 plane crashed in a shallow area, Sheriff Chris Nocco said.
One body was recovered, and "it's sad to say, it's a friend of ours — it's Roy Halladay," Nocco said at a news conference.
The Coast Guard said the two-person, single-engine amphibious plane went down near Anclote Key.
Halladay, 40, pitched for the Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies before retiring in 2013. He recorded more than 200 wins over his career with an earned-run average of 3.38. In 2010 he pitched a perfect game in the regular season, and then a no-hitter in the postseason.
He won the Cy Young Award twice, in 2010 with the Phillies and in 2003 with the Blue Jays.
Halladay was considered a Hall of Fame contender. MLB.com reported that from 2001 to 2011 he could be considered one of the best pitchers in baseball.
The Phillies said they were "numb" over the news and called Halladay "one of the most respected human beings to ever play the game." The team and the MLB commissioner expressed their condolences to his wife, Brandy, and their sons, Ryan and Braden.
Phillies chairman David Montgomery recalled congratulating Halladay after his no-hitter in the postseason and said the pitcher was so humble he didn’t want to take the credit.
"The reality is he stressed one thing – it was all about team for him,” Montgomery said. “It was a personal accomplishment, but in his mind it was all about team … He was a soft spoken man just combined with this incredible work ethic.”
Former teammate Cole Hamels said many people in baseball today grew up watching Halladay play, and he felt privileged to be on the same team when both were in Philadelphia. "He made everybody better, and that’s I think what you noticed," Hamels said.
Former teammate Michael Young called news of Halladay’s death "devastating" and said he was “The blueprint for what a competitor looks like."
Toronto Mayor John Tory, referring to Halladay by his nickname, said on Twitter: "Will never forget seeing the Doc dominate on the mound here in Toronto." The Blue Jays said the organization was "overcome by grief" and called Halladay one of the franchise's greatest players.
The plane was found upside down in the Gulf of Mexico, NBC affiliate WFLA reported, citing investigators.
There were no mayday calls sent in by the Tampa Bay air traffic control, Nocco said. Halladay was the only person on board the ICON A5 plane, the sheriff's office said.
Last month, Halladay on Twitter said he'd dreamed of owning an ICON A5 since he retired. He posted flight video, and wrote, "I'm getting bruises on my arms from constantly pinching myself!"
Nocco said that Halladay was a friend of the sheriff's department, and he described the former pitcher as "probably one of the most humble human beings you'll ever meet."
"Many know Roy as a Cy Young winner, future Hall of Famer, one of the best pitchers to ever pitch in the game of baseball," Nocco said. "We know Roy as a person. As a caring husband who loved his wife, Brandy. He loved his two boys tremendously."
Nocco said he saw Halladay on Friday during a charity fishing tournament. Halladay and his family had bought a K-9 dog for the department, which it named Doc.
"Being a pilot, flying planes was his passion," Nocco said.
The tail number of the aircraft was registered to Halladay, and Nocco said that when he learned that, "your heart sinks."
"We were praying for the best, that it could be a search and rescue and we were just going to be taking him to the hospital, and something happened — and the worst case scenario happened," Nocco said. "It just breaks our hearts."
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash, Nocco said. An ICON representative said in a statement Tuesday that the company would do everything it can to support the investigation, and expressed its deepest condolences to Halladay's family and friends.