MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The flight school that owned two planes involved in the mid-air collision over the Everglades that killed four people last week announced Monday it is shutting down for good.READ MORE: Suspected Shoplifter Shot By Police After Pulling Weapon At The Falls Shopping Center In SW Miami-Dade
Dean International Flight School, which says it’s been open since 1995 and has “successfully trained thousands of pilots”, is closing down. The owner says he made the decision entirely on his own.
“We have shut down operations since Tuesday of last week. We don’t plan on reopening. We are done,” announced Dean Flight Training School owner Robert Dean following a memorial for the four people who were killed. “The crash made the decision to close. That is something that we never expected.”
A letter given to students Monday says the school has struggled for the past year with lower student attendance. The letter read, “For the past year our major struggle has been that our foreign students, which make up 80% of our clientele are not getting through the USA Embassy Visa screening. This has lowered our student attendance immensely.”
“We were planning on downsizing a little. But this took place and there’s just no way. We just can’t live with ourselves to know that this took place,” said Dean.
Dean says the plane crashes that have taken place in the past year has greatly affected business. The letter reads, “We pride ourselves on the maintenance of our fleet and the training of our students. Unfortunately, accidents do happen and up to now, all the fatal ones have been due to pilot error. These accidents have placed us under a microscope by the FAA and under scrutiny by news media, costing us millions of dollars in expenses.”READ MORE: CDC's New Mask Mandate Encourages People To Get COVID Vaccinations
Last Tuesday, cell phone video captured debris falling from the sky over the Everglades after two small planes belonging to Dean Flight Training collided.
Chopper 4 was over the scene where the planes went down south of Tamiami Trail a few miles west of Krome Avenue at mile marker 23.
Nearly 30 Miami Dade Fire Rescue units were dispatched to the scene where rescuers had to use airboats to reach the remote area where the planes were.
The four victims were identified as 73-year-old Ralph Knight, 20-year-old Nisha Sejwal, 23–year-old Jorge Sanchez and 22-year-old Carlos Zanetti Scarpati.
As students gathered to remember the victims during Monday’s memorial, they‘re also upset knowing what they’ve been working towards — getting their pilot license — will not be happening, at least not at Dean Flight Training.
“I just don’t know what happens. I’m going to my country. I lose everything. We need the money and we need something,” said student Abdulahae Gari.
“I just found out the school is closing forever and they say we are sorry and that’s it and you’re going to get your money from three to six months. Some people don’t have money. What are we going to do?” Said student Nawaf Mojahue.MORE NEWS: 'There's More Aggression, More Confrontational Attitude': Miami Beach Police Chief On Increasing Safety, Security
The letter sent to students says, “We have hired a Professional Firm, to begin liquidating our assets and pay all our creditors. The process will take various months but we will begin liquidation immediately. We hope that the sales of the equipment and aircraft will cover all or at least a large part of the student balance left on accounts.”