Monday, January 25, 2021

Piper PA-32-301 Saratoga, N8224H: Accident occurred January 22, 2021 in Homestead, Florida

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entity: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; South Florida

Marina Mikes LLC

Location: Homestead, FL
Accident Number: ERA21LA123
Date & Time: January 22, 2021, 21:20 UTC
Registration: N8224H
Aircraft: Piper PA-32-301
Injuries: 4 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Piper
Registration: N8224H
Model/Series: PA-32-301 
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: 
Condition of Light:
Observation Facility, Elevation: 
Observation Time:
Distance from Accident Site:
Temperature/Dew Point:
Lowest Cloud Condition: 
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: / ,
Lowest Ceiling: 
Altimeter Setting:
Type of Flight Plan Filed:
Departure Point: 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 3 None 
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 4 None 
Latitude, Longitude: 25.130773,-81.035603 (est)

THE EVERGLADES, Florida (WSVN) - A group of friends, some who work as first responders, were on vacation when they spotted a plane crashing into the water and rescued the people on board.

A camping trip for three pilots, two Miami-Dade Police officers and a Hialeah firefighter turned into a rescue mission on Jan. 22 while they unpacked their canoes around 10 miles from Flamingo Park.

“I said, ‘Look guys, a sea plane,’ because I saw it coming down,” Miami-Dade Police Officer Raniel Castillo said, “but then, when he said, ‘No, that’s not a sea plane,’ at the same time, it’s a loud bang, a lot of noise. We’re running and calling 911 at the same time, and she couldn’t hear me, understand me. I was running so hard.”

The group of six watched the plane crash, and they said their training kicked in.

“When we got to the scene, I assessed everything,” Hialeah firefighter Roberto Bastori said. “As soon as I was approaching the airplane, I started voicing commands to them and asking, ‘Is everybody OK? How many people are on the plane? Do you guys see everybody?’ They all responded ‘Yes.'”

“I recognize four people in the water struggling,” Miami-Dade Police Officer Onestes Martinez said.

Gary Murphy, his wife and a friend were on board the aircraft. Pilot Jose Antonio Oliva, who worked search and rescue in his native Venezuela, said the group’s timing could not have been better.

“I always prepare extra survival equipment, extra first aid, bring the complete equipment,” Oliva said. “Thank God there was no injuries.”

“There was not a person in sight,” Bastori said. “Ten miles to the right of us, there was not a soul. Ten miles to the left of us, not a soul. Somehow, some way, God put us there for them.”

“In my 28 years of experience, I’ve never experienced a plane crash in my whole police career,” Castillo said, “and here it happens in East Cape when I’m off-duty.”

Those on board the plane that day said they are grateful to the first responders for their actions.

Angel Gonzalez and Ernesto Carmasas, the two other pilots in the group, said the plane would have been completely submerged minutes after the crash.

A small aircraft crashed in the park yesterday afternoon in the Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of Cape Sable. Some nearby campers on East Cape Sable witnessed the crash and notified the park. These Good Samaritans rescued the four people on board. Thankfully, there were no injuries. Park Rangers responded along with the US Coast Guard who transported the passengers to Marathon in the Florida Keys. The plane was enroute to Marathon from Ft. Myers.

For boaters in the area, please use caution. A Notice to Mariners has gone out. The plane is approximately one-half mile offshore of Cape Sable in about 10 feet of water with the tail sticking out.

On January 22 at 4:25 p.m., Everglades National Park received notification of a small aircraft crash near Cape Sable.

Park Rangers and the U.S. Coast Guard responded to the remote beach area along the Gulf of Mexico in the park.

Nearby campers at the East Cape Sable wilderness campsite rescued the four passengers and brought them back to shore. No injuries were reported.

The Piper PA-32-301 Saratoga had taken off from Fort Myers headed for Marathon in the Florida Keys. 

The plane went down approximately one-half mile from shore in about 10 feet of water.

A Notice to Mariners has been issued as the plane is mostly submerged with the tail protruding from the water.

The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are leading the investigation and coordinating the removal of the plane with the National Park Service. 

Park staff are monitoring the site and will be evaluating environmental impact.

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