At least 3 dead after 2 small planes crash in SW Miami-Dade

SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - UPDATE (WSVN) – The fourth body has been found. Click here for the latest.


The search resumes for a possible victim of a fatal midair crash involving two small planes over Southwest Miami-Dade.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, along with Florida Highway Patrol and Miccosukee Police responded to the scene near 22700 SW 8th St., just after 1 p.m., Tuesday. Recovery efforts were previously underway.

Miami-Dade Police confirmed that three bodies were recovered. They said there may be a fourth victim.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the incident involved a Piper PA-34 and a Cessna 172 aircraft.

Two bodies were found at the wreckage at one plane and a third was found near the wreckage of the second plane.

Police have identified three victims as 19-year-old Nisha Sejwal, 22-year-old Jorge Sanchez and 72-year-old Ralph Knight.

“We were able to confirm that we do have three deceased. There could be a possible fourth,” said Miami-Dade Police Detective Alvaro Zabaleta. “Preliminary information that’s coming into our homicide detectives is that the two planes were possibly training, which leads us to believe that you had a pilot and a trainer or a trainer and a student, and another plane trainer and a student.”

Witness Daniel Miralles was fishing when the crash happened. He captured plane debris falling from the sky on cellphone video.

“Just a terrible situation. I was actually just about to catch a fish, and I heard that and everything just happened so fast,” Miralles said. “Next thing I know, ‘Boom,’ it collided.”

Miralles said pieces of the plane ended up scattered across the swamp land. “Debris fell literally on the street and into that canal right there,” he said. “That’s how close it happened to us.”

He said that crews arrived almost immediately after he called 911. “I wanted to see if I could help, but there was no way of me getting there,” Miralles said. “Poor people. They probably died on impact.”

“Our crews are out here this morning training for incidents such as this,” said Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Marine Operations Chief Andy Alvarez. “We were out here training with our air boat, and that’s when we received the call. We were able to immediately respond to the area in question and deploy our assets.”

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said both planes were with Dean International Flight School, which operates out of Miami Executive Airport.

According to data from the National Transportation Safety Board, the school has had about a dozen crashes or emergency landings in the last 20 years.

The most recent plane crash happened in the Everglades in May. Both people on board survived.

Others were not as lucky.

On July 13, 2017, a Cessna 172M operated by Dean International was significantly damaged during a forced landing in Key Biscayne. The flight instructor was not hurt, but the private pilot suffered minor injuries.

On July 1, 2017, a Cessna 152 operated by the school was destroyed after crashing in the Everglades in Homestead. The pilot was killed.

Dean International Flight School employees refused to speak with 7News, Tuesday.

It remains unknown what led to the crash.

“I was so in shock and so devastated,” Miralles said looking over the video. “Shards of metal still falling up there. Those little dots are pieces of plane. I could only imagine what those people were going through.”

Southwest Eighth Street was closed in the area while crews worked the scene. The search for a potential fourth person has been resumed as of Wednesday morning, just after 7 a.m.

The FAA and the NTSB are now investigating.

Copyright 2018 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.