At about 14:25 central time, a Piper PA-32RT-300T crashed in the Gulf of Mexico near Gulfport, killing the pilot. IMC prevailed and a VFR flight plan from Tampa to New Orleans had been filed but not activated. Gulfport Approach Control, which was providing flight following, received a land line call from New Orleans Approach Control recommending that the flight not try to continue VFR. Gulfport relayed the message to the accident pilot and recommended a left 180-degree turn to avoid weather. The pilot acknowledged, but radar returns showed the flight entered a right turn and started a high rate of descent.