Anna Maria businessman, wife recovering from plane crash

The sign says “Gone Fishing,” but the vacation has outlasted spring and summer and now is winding through fall.

But, as The Islander recently learned, Steve Rose and wife Marci Wilhelm have had a lot of healing to do since taking a vacation from their businesses. Rose placed the “Gone Fishing” sign and closed Bortell’s Lounge in Anna Maria in the spring.

The couple survived a plane crash Sept. 27 at the downtown Greenville, South Carolina, airport. The pilot and copilot of their Dassault Falcon 50 plane died in the crash.

Rose and Wilhelm, who reside in Tampa, were on a private flight out of the St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport. The pilot, John Caswell of Port St. Lucie, and the copilot, Stephen George Fox of Indian Rocks Beach, both died when the plane failed to stop on the runway, skidded off the tarmac and crashed through a wooden fence. The fuselage of the plane broke into two pieces just behind the cockpit from the impact.

According to records from the Federal Aviation Administration, neither pilot had the proper credentials to operate the Falcon 50, the local newspaper, the Greenville News, reported Oct. 3.

The couple requested the authorities not immediately release their identities.

Rose’s family owns Bortell’s Lounge in Anna Maria, which has operated since 1977. He manages and operates the bar, across from city hall and the Island Players theater, and has been a longtime co-producer of Island Players productions.

Wilhelm is the founder and CEO of MedPartners, which was acquired by AMN Healthcare Services Inc. of San Diego in April for $195 million, according to a U.S. Securities and Exchange commission statement.

Rose and Wilhelm were both hospitalized in South Carolina, with Wilhelm undergoing multiple surgeries. As of Islander press time, she remained in a South Carolina hospital.

Rose was well enough to thank first responders Oct. 15, visiting with members of Greenville’s fire and police departments, as well as paramedics and aviation technicians, as reported by FOX Carolina News. He wore a back brace and a walking boot to the meeting, and noted numerous and “still painful injuries,” according to the report.

He also said Wilhelm hopes she can be transferred closer to home.

Her parents live on Key Royale in Holmes Beach and, according to friend Diane Phinney, all the couple’s energy has been centered on their recovery.