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HAULOVER BEACH (CBSMIAMI) — Stunned sunbathers looked on as a plane crashed into the water near Haulover Beach Tuesday morning.
“It was very scary. We saw the plane fall into the ocean,” witness Stephanie Grasp told CBS4’s Joan Murray. “And the lifeguards jumped into the ocean.”
Lifeguard Marcel Lopez who was watching from his station grabbed his board and buoy and swam to the downed plane.
“By the time I got there, they had gotten out of the plane but they had to jump because the wing sunk quick,” said Lopez.
A good Samaritan notified U.S. Coast Guard officials around 11:30 a.m. saying the plane had crashed and was sinking 40-feet away from the beach.
Chopper 4 was over the scene at Haulover Cut near 108th Street and Collins Avenue. A small plane was seen underwater as authorities investigated nearby.
Miami-Dade Fire Rescue officials said two men were on board the plane when it went down.
Lopez said the men were student pilots from South America who had encountered engine trouble.
“They were coming from Marathon, had engine trouble, tried to land on the sand but ended up crashing in the water,” said Lopez.
Once on shore, the rescue crews checked out the two men. Aside from minor cuts and bruises, they weren’t seriously injured.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a statement on the incident saying in part, “A Piper PA 28 crashed into the Atlantic Ocean 8 miles east of Opa Locka, FL today at 11:47 am…The FAA will investigate and the NTSB will determine the probable cause.”
The plane operates out of Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport, according to FAA records. The registered owner is listed as Growl Inc. out of Merritt Island in Brevard County.