HAULOVER PARK, Fla. – Cellphone video captured the moments after impact when a single-engine Cessna 172 lost engine power before landing on a bridge Saturday in Miami, about five miles east of the Opa-Locka Airport.
Thick black smoke could be seen billowing into the air around 1 p.m., and Anthony Ruiz, who was on a shift at the time riding his boat, heard it all happen.
Ruiz says he heard a loud bang as he was on the sandbar, approximately a football field away from where the plane went down on the Haulover Inlet bridge.
“I heard kind of like a bang, but I wasn’t facing the bridge. I’m constantly listening to Channel 16 to hear any type of vessels in distress, and while I was on that channel, I hear somebody saying, ‘A plane just crashed on the bridge,’ and I turn around and I see the flames and I kind of headed over to it and started filming,” Ruiz said.
Ruiz said he assisted in blocking the inlet until marine police arrived, trying to prevent other boats from riding in an area where fuel could have spilled into the water.
“Honestly, man, I was just hoping whoever was in the plane was out and alive,” Ruiz said.
Authorities confirmed that one person was killed in the plane crash and five others were injured.
According to the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, 36-year-old Narciso Torres is the pilot who died in the crash. Torres is described as a good friend and devoted leader who worked as an air traffic controller at MIA since June of 2015.
“This is a terrible tragedy that has sent shock waves throughout our NATCA family,” NATCA president Rich Santa said in a statement. “Our hearts go out to Narciso’s wife, Jennifer, his entire family, and the many fellow Union brothers and sisters that loved him so much and are now dealing with an unspeakable loss.”