ELLIOTT KEY (CBSMiami) — A small Cessna 172 crashed near Elliott Key Sunday afternoon killing one person, officials said.

Miami-Dade Police say the plane went down about 200 yards east of Elliott Key on the ocean side.

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Tom Romanowski was on the other side of the key when he saw the plane plunge toward the water.

Watch Maggie Newland’s 11 p.m. report, click here.

“We were just sitting out in a boat and all of the sudden he just went straight down,” Romanowski told CBS4’s Maggie Newland, adding, “He didn’t try to pull up on the throttle; the wings didn’t fluctuate. He just went straight in.”

Romanowski called 911 and went toward the scene of the crash. He took video of some of the debris he saw. “We just saw pieces of metal no bigger than three foot by three foot,” he explained.

Police, rescue boats, and helicopters arrived to search for the plane. .

“We saw two Dade County choppers going in circles maybe thirty, forty minutes after the noise and then coast guard came in,” said Carlos Meneses, who heard the crash.

“Once they responded they did locate the aircraft immediately they summoned for rescue divers,” said Detective Alvaro Zabaleta with Miami-Dade Police.

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Police say divers found the pilot’s body still inside the plane which was submerged in about 10 feet of water. While police detectives investigate the man’s death, federal investigators will work to determine what caused the plane to crash.  Police said the wreckage remained in the water Sunday night. The NTSB is expected on the scene sometime Monday.

Those who saw or heard the plane go down, say their thoughts are with the man who lost his life.

“I’m a pilot myself so I don’t want that to happen. I wouldn’t want to be in that situation. I feel bad for the pilot,” said Meneses.

Watch Maggie Newland’s 6:30 p.m. report, click here.


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