Longtime Cody businessman Kit Cody, his brother Barry Cody and their friend Rob Krieger of Florida died Thursday in the crash of a private plane in central Florida.
While family members confirmed their loved ones had perished in the Cessna 310 crash during the weekend, authorities waited until Monday to release their identities.
Kit, 67, and Barry, 65, are great-grandsons of William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody, one of the founders of the city of Cody who was world-famous for his Wild West show. The pair were leaders of the Cody Family Association, a network of Buffalo Bill descendants.
The Cody brothers spent winters in Winter Haven, Fla., where they grew up with Krieger. Barry Cody, a retired high school track and cross country coach, was a frequent Cody visitor. Krieger, 65, owned Krieger Electric in Winter Haven and was a major community supporter there.
Kit Cody’s son-in-law Bryan Edwards said the three were on one of Kit’s two airplanes and had been “island hopping” in the Bahamas. The accident occurred in bad weather in the wooded Fort Drum Marsh Conservation Area about 20 miles west of Vero Beach, Fla., and southeast of Orlando.
Krieger’s wife Nancy told The (Florida) Ledger the three spent two days on Treasure Cay in the Bahamas. She said Kit Cody was pilot and Krieger was the co-pilot.
They lost contact with the Federal Aviation Administration on Thursday afternoon, but the crash site – only accessible by helicopter – was not discovered until Friday.
Officials said the crash occurred about 5 p.m. Thursday while the three were flying from Okeechobee to Bartow. The caused is unknown, but the National Transportation Safety Board said inclement weather was a problem, The Ledger reported.
Kit Cody, who owned the Green Gables Motel in Cody and spent summers here, also previously owned other motels in Cody and in the Orlando, Fla., area.
Kit’s wife Linda was supposed to make the trip but, at the last minute, did not go. He also is survived by his children, Kellie Edwards, 39, of Cody and Kevin Cody, 37, of Atlanta, Ga., and brother Bill Garlow of Cody. (A fourth brother died many years ago.)
In September 2008, Kit Cody, at age 63, made his 1,000th parachute jump, landing in Mentock Park to a gathering of friends and well-wishers.
In the crowd of spectators were many who knew Kit well. At the time, Glenn Rice recalled serving with Kit in Germany in the Army Airborne. Others credited him for getting them involved in the sport.
Following the jump Kit said, “This was a good jump. Any jump you can walk away from is a great jump. In all my 1,000 jumps, I’ve never had a close call, and I hope the next 1,000 jumps will go as well.”
He began skydiving in the military 1964-67 and returned to the hobby about 10 years ago in Florida.
In 1968, Kit moved to Cody where he started Shoshone River Float.
Friends of Kit described him as a self-made man who came to Cody with very little. He was successful in the motel business for a number of years before retiring in 2005.
Mortgage broker Jeri Stewart told The Ledger Kit’s current business card advertised his various hobbies with images in each corner of an airplane, motorcycle, parachute and a snowmobile.
“He was just a lot of fun,” she said. “He always had a smile on his face. He was a wonderful guy.”
Funeral plans have not been announced.
(The Associated Press contributed to this story. Heidi Hansen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)