Grieving attorney, retired teacher injured in South Beach helicopter crash

Pilot says training kicked in during crash landing

Attorney Morgan Geller, Rochelle Arkin, and the pilot were the three who survived the crash of a four-seat lightweight helicopter — feet away from a crowded beach — on Saturday in Miami Beach.

MIAMI – Attorney Morgan Geller, Rachelle Mussary Arkin, and Robert Arkin were the three who survived the crash of a four-seat lightweight helicopter on Saturday in Miami Beach.

Good Samaritans in the crowded beach quickly jumped into the shallow water shortly after 1 p.m., near the busy intersection of Ocean Drive and 10th Street, in sunny South Beach.

“The whole beach ran to the scene, like ten guys pulling the skid down, so it didn’t collapse over because it was sitting on the blade. When the blade snapped, the helicopter started going over, so we are pulling the skid down, two guys were inside pulling the passengers out,” said Shawn Adams, a tourist from Las Vegas.

Robert Arkin, 59, the Robinson R44 helicopter’s pilot, was not injured. He said on Monday his training kicked in and his focus was on saving lives.

Miami Beach Fire Rescue personnel took Geller and Robert Arkin’s wife, Mussary Arkin, 58, a former North Beach Elementary School teacher, to Jackson Memorial Hospital. The two remained hospitalized on Monday and their condition was stable.

Geller, 35, had already been going through difficulties. Attorney Jorgen Slots, Geller’s fiancée, recently died in Miami Beach. Friends said she has been grieving since he suffered a head injury that appeared to be related to a fall from a golf cart.

A Robinson R44 helicopter crashed into the ocean on Saturday feet away from a crowded beach. (Copyright 2021 by WPLG - All rights reserved.)

Investigators have yet to determine the cause of the helicopter crash.

The Robinson Helicopter Company’s model R44 and R44 II helicopters are popular and have been the subject of scrutiny by both the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration.

The R44 helicopters have had several FAA airworthiness directives including one late last year after reports of cracked blades. It warned, “the unsafe condition, if not addressed, could result in reduced controllability and subsequent loss of control of the helicopter.”

The NTSB also issued a safety recommendation in 2014 to the FAA requesting improvements to the helicopter’s resistance to a post-accident fuel tank leak.

4:30 p.m. report

The pilot who survived a crash landing in shallow ocean water off Miami Beach said his training kicked in.

3 p.m. report

A pilot and two women survived a helicopter crash on Saturday in Miami Beach. The two women remained hospitalized on Monday.

12 p.m.

Two people were injured during a helicopter crash on Saturday in front of a crowded beach in Miami Beach.

About the Authors:

Reporter Rosh Lowe has been covering news for nearly two decades in South Florida. He joined Local 10 in 2021.

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.