Michael Collins, a former South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) Governing Board member, has died after his plane crashed Wednesday morning in Georgia.
A report on that crash says Collins took off in heavy fog to head back to Florida and was the only person on board. Police say the plane clipped several trees on its way down before crashing, though authorities have not yet directly tied the foggy conditions to the crash.
Former Gov. Jeb Bush appointed Collins to the SFWMD Governing Board, which helps set water policy in 16 counties across the southern portion of Florida. Collins was sworn in as a member in 1999 and served on the body for just over a decade.
After his time with the water district, Collins created the Water Resources Advisory Council (WRAC) to help guide the water management district on water issues and increase public participation in the policy decision-making process. Collins remained active in water policy discussions in the years after he left the SFWMD Governing Board, writing several pieces responding to ongoing policy debates.
Collins was also a former Wall Street banker who then worked as a fishing guide in Islamorada and led the Florida Keys Fishing Guides Association.
Additional reporting on the crash from North Georgia News says Collins flew from Florida Tuesday into the Blairsville Municipal Airport. Collins hails from Islamorada in the Keys, though he also owned a home in Morganton, Georgia, near Georgia’s northern border.
Collins was flying near Lake Nottely on his way home to Florida when the plane went down, according to the Union County Sheriff’s Office. Multiple witnesses say they heard the crash before calling it in shortly after 8 a.m.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the precise cause of the crash.
Collins was 71 years old. He is survived by his wife, Kym.