Plane crashes into water off Haulover Beach

No injuries reported

By Amanda Batchelor - Senior Digital Editor

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. - A small plane crashed into the water Tuesday off Haulover Beach.

The crash was reported about 11:45 a.m. in the area of 108th Street and Collins Avenue.

Sky 10 was above the Haulover Beach Inlet shortly after the crash as a U.S. Coast Guard boat and several Miami-Dade Fire Rescue boats and vehicles were in the area.

A man who witnessed the crash, Hardy Sides, told Local 10 News that the plane nose-dived into the water.

Two men were on the Piper PA 28, but no one was injured in the crash. They were checked out by paramedics at the scene and were not taken to a hospital.

Authorities said the plane took off from Marathon. The pilot and passengers were flight students from South America.

They were identified as pilot Juan Jose Ortiz Carrera, 20, of Ecuador, and passenger Fabian Ignacio Bobadilla-Ruiz, 24, of Chile.

The Federal Aviation Administration released a statement shortly after the crash that said that the plane crashed into the Atlantic Ocean 8 miles east of Opa-locka at 11:47 a.m.

"The FAA will investigate and the National Transportation Safety Board will determine the probable cause," the statement said.

A woman at the beach told Local 10 News reporter Ben Kennedy that the pilot told her grandmother that he pressed a wrong button and the plane plummeted toward the ocean.

"I've never seen something like this in my life. The thing just crashed down from the sky. It was scary," Stephanie Grasp said. "They said they just pushed the wrong button, the plane fell in and then they jumped out and the lifeguard saw them."

According to Grasp, the pilot and passenger swam to shore as lifeguards jumped in the water to help them.

"They got out of the plane, they started swimming and we saw them on shore, like catching their breath," Grasp said.

"I jumped into the water with the board, and actually I saw the guys coming out of the plane and jumping in the water," lifeguard Marcel Lopez said. "The first guy said, 'help my partner because he doesn't swim very well,' so I gave the board to one guy, secured the guy and get the other guy, and they started coming in together."

Grasp said the pilot and passenger seemed scared, but they were otherwise OK.

Sky 10 was back above the water at 5 p.m. as boat crews worked to pull the sunken plane to shore.

The single-engine plane is registered to Growl Inc. in Merritt Island. 

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