4 killed in midair collision in Florida

Posted at 12:06 PM, Jul 18, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-18 14:06:07-04

By Jamiel Lynch, CNN

Four people were killed Tuesday in a midair collision during a possible training flight in the Florida Everglades, authorities said.

Several 911 callers reported seeing an explosion in the air just after 1 p.m., Miami-Dade police said. Two victims were found at the wreckage of one aircraft. The third body was recovered from the wreckage of the second aircraft, CNN affiliate WSVNreported.

The search was suspended at dark Tuesday, and the fourth victim was found roughly an hour after the search resumed Wednesday morning, Miami-Dade Police Detective Alvaro Zabaleta said.

The fourth victim was identified as Carlos Alfredo Zanetti Scarpati, 22, “a fairly new student” at a flight school based out of Miami Executive Airport, the detective said. He was in the plane with pilot Jorge Sanchez, 22, at the time of the crash.

The second aircraft involved — which is from the same flight school — was carrying pilot and inspector Ralph Knight and Nisha Sejwal, 19, Zabaleta said.

Agents with the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are on the scene, but it is too soon to determine the cause of the collision or who was piloting the planes, he said. Scarpati was the only victim who was not a licensed pilot, he said.

The planes were possibly doing a training exercise and authorities believe there may have been a pilot and a student in each aircraft, Zabaleta said.

The crash happened 9 miles west of the Miami Executive Airport, the FAA said.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez said both planes were with Dean International Flight School, which operates out of the airport, WSVN reported.

The FAA identified the planes as a Piper PA-34 and a Cessna 172 aircraft.