Yesterday, a passenger fell from a small plane that was flying at an altitude of approximately 2,000 feet. The person fell into the Biscayne Bay in Miami.
As per Coast Guard 7th District Public Affairs Spc. Mark Barney, in speaking to the Los Angeles Times, air traffic control reported receiving a “mayday” call at about 1:30 p.m EST. The unidentified 47 year-old pilot of the Piper PA 46 private plane explained how a door on the plane was ajar, and a passenger had fallen from it. The call came in when the plane was between six and eight miles away from the Tamiami Executive Airport.
The air traffic controller seemed to be in disbelief and asked the pilot to confirm that a passenger did indeed fall out of the plane. The pilot confirmed that this was correct, that the passenger opened the back door and simply fell out of the plane.
According to a report posted on the Live ATC.Net website, the pilot remained calm during the call.
Miami-Dade police told ABC News that they had sent their homicide unit to the airport yesterday afternoon to talk to the pilot. This is not unusual, as homicide units are typically dispatched in the event of a death. As per Greg Chin, the Communications Director for Miami-Dade’s Aviation Department, the passenger was the only other person on board the authorized flight, despite the plane being able to fit a maximum of five people.
The Miami-Dade police have also sent divers into the area where the man is believed to have fallen. They are presently combing the waters between Key Biscayne’s Cape Florida Lighthouse and the seashore close to that area of Biscayne Bay.
Police spokesman Javier Baez said they are still working on gathering evidence, but that there is none to suggest that any foul play had taken place. It also remains unclear whether or not the passenger fell out of the plane by accident, or if he deliberately jumped. However, both the Coast Guard and officials with Fire Rescue have stated that they have not yet determined if the mayday call was legitimate.
Baez also declined making a statement about whether or not the owner of the plane was on board.
The Coast Guard station of Miami Beach initially dispatched a search-and-rescue team by boat, and a helicopter was also sent out from the Miami-Dade County Air Rescue, however, the helicopter was called off shortly thereafter. The search has also been reclassified as a recovery mission, as Baez stated that it was unlikely the passenger could have survived a fall from that height.
Miami-Dade Fire Rescue was on the scene as well yesterday evening as all three agencies searched for the passenger. The search was called off temporarily yesterday evening, and was to resume again today at daybreak. As of this printing, the passenger has not yet been found.
Oddly enough, a similar incident occurred earlier this month off the coast of Newport Beach when a passenger, who had chartered a helicopter for the purposes of sightseeing, opened the door and jumped. That passenger fell about 500 feet into the ocean. He was rescued and brought to a local hospital, but that was where he unfortunately passed away.