Colorado native, major league all-star pitcher Roy Halladay dies in plane crash

PASCO COUNTY, Fla. -- Eight-time All-star and two-time Cy Young Award winning major league all-star pitcher Roy Halladay died in a plane crash in the Gulf of Mexico off of the coast of Florida on Tuesday.

Halladay was a graduate of Arvada West High School.

Halladay, 40, was the only person on the two-seater plane that crashed just off Holiday, Florida, on the Gulf coast north of the Tampa Bay area, Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco said.

The single-engine plane, an Icon A5, crashed in very shallow water and was found upside down.

A 911 call came in at 10:06 a.m. MST saying a small plane had crashed. There were no distress calls, the sheriff's office said.

Icon A5s are considered light, amphibious airplanes. They can land on water or land, have folding wings and can be transported by trailers.

In recent weeks, the retired baseball star had tweeted photos of the aircraft.

One post said: "I have dreamed about owning a A5 since I retired! Real life is better then my dreams!!"

Halladay retired in 2013 after 12 seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays followed by four seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies.

He won the Cy Young Award for the Blue Jays in 2003, when he went 22-7 with a 3.25 ERA and led the American League with nine complete games.

The Blue Jays said the club was grief stricken by "the tragic loss of one of the franchise's greatest and most respected players, but even better human being."

He was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies before the 2010 season and Halladay won another Cy Young Award in his first year with the team.

That season he went 21-10 with a 2.44 ERA and threw a perfect game in the regular season and a no-hitter in his first postseason start.

The no-hitter is the only one in National League postseason history.

The 1995 Arvada West High School graduate was one of the best baseball players ever to come out of Colorado.

"He was one in a million," said Nocco, the sheriff who was a friend of Halladay's. "It is a true loss for us. ... His heart was a heart of gold. He was an unbelievable human being."

Nocco said Halladay often spoke of his love of flying.

Former Blue Jays teammate Vernon Wells said Halladay was one of the best pitchers ever.

"I had a front row seat to watch his greatness. RIP Doc," Wells tweeted, referencing a Halladay nickname.

Catcher Bengie Molina played for the Blue Jays in 2006 and said he felt ill when he heard of the news.

"Wow i feel so sick and sad, what a true COMPETITOR and an AWESOME teammate and friend he was and one of the nastiest pitcher I've ever caught! PRAYERS for his whole family!!"

Halladay will be eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2019.

In 1994, Arvada West, with Halladay on the team, won the state baseball title.

Teammates Adam Miller and Brad Madden fondly remembered Halladay.

Both men recall watching Halladay work tirelessly on the baseball field, long before he became the ace of the Blue Jays.

They also say the potential future Hall of famer was even more proud of his work as a husband and father than any won-loss record he achieved.

ICON Aircraft delivered the new A5 plane to Halladay about one month ago.

"Halladay's A5 is the first of 100 specially equipped Founders Edition aircraft to be built," according to a news release on Oct 12.

"I've been dreaming about flying since I was a boy but was only able to become a pilot once I retired from baseball," Halladay was quoted as saying.

Halladay and his wife, Brandy, also appeared in a video about the plane.

The National Transportation Safety Board will investigate Tuesday's crash.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the certification for the plane was issued Monday, meaning the aircraft was new.

In May, there was a crash of an A5 in California that killed both people on board. The NTSB ruled pilot error was the cause.