PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – Two people were killed Friday morning when a small plane struck a storage building and crashed to the ground in a Broward County industrial area.
One of the victims was Joaquin Ricalde Magaña, his family confirmed to Local 10 News.
Magaña’s niece, a politician in Mexico, tweeted out this photo with Joaquin on the far right in a black shirt, writing in Spanish that “Life is short and a privilege and if you don’t remember that, it will remind you. Have a good trip uncle Huacho, this was a flight with no return.”
El privilegio de la vida es efímero y si no lo entiendes te lo vuelve a recordar. Buen viaje tío Huacho, esta vez fue un vuelo sin regreso ✈️ salúdame a mis abuelos; te deben estar recibiendo con caracol en escabeche. Aquí nos duele el alma, ya se nos fueron 3. Descansa en paz🕊 pic.twitter.com/zcDGIPaCQf— Atenea Gómez Ricalde (@Atenea_GomezR) August 28, 2020
The 1969 twin-engine Aero Commander 500S with Magaña and one other person on board had taken off in Pompano Beach and was heading to Opa-locka, police say. It was only in the air for nine minutes before it crashed around 9 a.m. at 1781 S. Park Road in Pembroke Park.
The force of the collision into the building’s fifth floor was so great that the engine separated from the plane.
“I was walking out of the storage when I heard an explosion,” Armando Perez told reporters at the scene in Spanish. “I came out and saw the plane and two bodies. Had I gone out a minute earlier, the plane would’ve fallen on me.”
Sky 10 was above the scene shortly before 9:30 a.m. The bodies of two people were visible toward the front of the plane, surrounded by debris.
Broward Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Don Prichard said police, Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue and Hollywood Fire Rescue crews were dispatched to the scene.
Prichard said it appears that no one was inside the storage building that the plane hit.
The building will need repairs but has been deemed safe to be in.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration registry, the plane is registered to Conquest Air, Inc. out of Miami Lakes.
Conquest Air is a cargo company that flies daily trips from Miami to the Bahamas — doing most of their flying out of Miami-Opa Locka Executive Airport — but they say this plane was not part of their cargo operation and is not used for any commercial purposes.
“Our concern is with the pilots and their families,” a statement issued by Conquest Air read in part. “We will continue to work with the relevant authorities to obtain more information regarding this situation.”
Steven J. Grey, who flies for Total Traffic, told Local 10 News reporter Jeff Weinsier that the pilot of that plane could be heard on radio panicking before impact.
“It sounds like the pilot keyed up the radio before the plane went down, or the copilot, and was screaming,” Grey said. “We just landed at Hollywood North Perry Airport and my pilot’s listening on the radio and he hears, “Oh, f! ... Oh my gosh!’”
Grey said the tower didn’t get a response from the plane after that, and then declared an emergency and told other aircraft in the area to hold.
FAA spokesman Rick Breitenfeldt said the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the crash, with the NTSB taking the lead in the investigation.
In February 2019, a cargo plane from Conquest Air was on its way to Opa-locka from the Bahamas when it went down in the water about 13 miles east of Bay Harbor Islands.