MIAMI – Authorities released the identity today of a Florida man who they say fell out of a private plane, and searchers continued looking for his body in the Atlantic Ocean near Miami.
Miami-Dade Police Department spokesman Javier Baez identified the victim as 42-year-old Gerardo Nales of Key Biscayne, an island not far from where the plane’s pilot said Nales fell into the water. Baez said police air and water units were scouring the sea and expanded their search area because of currents and wind.
The search ended at nightfall today and will resume Saturday morning, Baez said.
The pilot of the Piper PA 46 called for help Thursday afternoon, radioing “mayday, mayday, mayday” and telling an air traffic controller that a door was open and a passenger had fallen from the plane. The aircraft had just taken off from Tamiami Executive Airport, located south of Miami, Baez said.
The identity of the pilot has not been released, nor has the intended destination of the plane. Baez said there were only two people on board.
FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said plane was flying at about 2,000 feet, some 8 miles southeast of the Tamiami airport.
Baez said investigators have no evidence of foul play. The search will end Saturday night if authorities can’t find the body.
According to a report on the website Live ATC.Net, the pilot calmly radioed the air traffic controller. LiveATC.Net provides live air traffic-control broadcasts from control towers and radar facilities around the world.
“I have a door ajar and a passenger that fell down. I’m six miles from Tamiami,” the pilot said.
“You said you’ve got a passenger that fell out of your plane?” the air traffic controller responds.
“That’s correct, sir,” the pilot said. “He opened the back door and he just fell out the plane.”