Tuesday was a difficult day for the family of four individuals who were killed in a plane crash that occurred midair. Two small planes had been flying over the Everglades in West Miami-Dade when they collided into one another. The Tampa Bay Times reported that it was a Piper PA-34 and a Cessna 172 that were involved in the accident. Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez said that the planes belonged to Dean International, which is a flight school based out of Miami Executive Airport.
After the accident was called in, several different departments arrived at the scene including Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, Miccosukee police, Florida Highway Patrol, and National Park Rangers. The incident happened about nine miles west of Miami Executive Airport and the planes came down in “a remote area” that could only be accessed by airboat or seaplane which made it rather difficult for emergency personnel to get there. When they did, however, they located the bodies of three individuals. These three victims have been identified as Jorge Sanchez, 22, Ralph Knight, 72, and Nisha Sejwal, 19. Because the planes crashed in an area that has no lighting, police were forced to suspend their search for any remaining victims Tuesday evening until the early morning hours on Wednesday when the sun came up.
When Wednesday morning arrived, police located the body of a fourth victim. That individual has been identified as 22-year-old Carlos Alfredo Zanetti Scarpati [Source: The Sun-Sentinel]. Aside from locating the victims’ bodies, police also needed to locate the debris so they would be able to piece together what happened and why. Miami-Dade police spokesman Alvaro Zabaleta stated that when crews began their search, they thought they were only looking for one plane. However, after they located the first aircraft and marked the location, his crew began receiving phone calls that a second plane had gone down, and they continued their search. Police then located the second plane about 400 yards away from the where the first plane went down.
Zabaleta said that based on the preliminary information his homicide detectives gathered, it appears “that the two planes were possibly training” and there may have been “a pilot and a trainer or trainer and a student” in one plane, “and in another plane, a trainer and student.” Officials also revealed that this isn’t the first incident that has happened involving planes from Dean International. According to the Sun-Sentinel, an accident involving a Cessna 152 crashed on May 3, 2018, that was heading toward Miami Executive Airport. It crashed 24 miles west of Tamiami. A private pilot and a pilot-rated passenger were on board and apparently, the “pilots lost control of the plane after flying into instrumental meteorological conditions.”
Those pilots were left severely injured, although they survived the crash. Three other accidents occurred back in June and July 2017 also involving planes from the school.
Family and friends spoke out after learning that their loved ones had been killed in the accident, sharing the passion these individuals had for flying. Sanchez’s brother said Jorge was on his way to accumulating all 1,500 hours of flying time so that he could apply to a regional airline. Both Jorge and Julio Sanchez are in the aviation industry, both sharing a passion for flying. He said, “It was his and my dream, the road map we were both taking. I was following in his footsteps. And I’ll continue in his honor.” Sejwal, who was another victim of the plane crash, enrolled in Dean International in September 2017 and also shared a love for flying.
While many people, including the families and friends of these four individuals, are seeking answers to why this crash occurred, it is likely that the investigation will take some time before officials can determine the exact reason it transpired. However, based on the information that has already been released, it might be a good idea for those who have been impacted by the incident to speak with a Miami accident attorney who can explain what their legal rights are in the matter.