A Miami air traffic controller was killed when a small plane he was on crashed into a car on a bridge and burst into flames.
Authorities say Narciso Torres, 36, died when the single-engine Cessna 172 he was on lost engine power and crashed, hitting a minivan with three people inside at around 1pm on Saturday.
The crash sparked a massive fire on the Haulover Inlet Bridge near the 10800 block of Collins Avenue, Miami-Dade Police Spokesman Alvaro Zabaleta said Sunday, noting that two others who were flying in the aircraft were able to get out and were brought to local hospitals.
But, Zabaleta said, after fire crews extinguished the blaze, they found Torres’ body in the wreckage, NBC Miami reports.
‘This is a terrible tragedy that has sent shock waves throughout our NATCA family,’ National Air Traffic Controllers Association President Rich Santa said in a statement.
The identities of the other victims of the crash have not yet been released, but authorities say the two others who were onboard the small aircraft were brought to local hospitals with burns.
Meanwhile, the three people in the minivan the plane crashed directly into – a woman and two children, ages 2 and 6 – were also hospitalized, but did not suffer any serious injuries.
‘It is miraculous that you’re traveling in a vehicle, you know, the driver with the two toddlers and you [suffer a] head-on collision with an aircraft and everybody’s OK,’ Zabaleta said on Sunday.
‘So we’re thankful for that, but it’s still unfortunate that we did lose somebody on the scene.’
Narciso Torres, 36, died when the single-engine Cessna 172 he was on lost engine power and crashed, hitting a minivan with three people inside at around 1pm on Saturday
He had worked as an air traffic controller at Miami International Airport since 2015, and was known for his love of flying
Torres is now remembered for his love of flying.
He had many certifications, including for aircraft dispatcher, mechanic, air traffic tower operator and private pilot, and he began his career in May 2008 at the Orlando International Air Traffic Control Tower, the Miami Herald reports.
Torres later transferred to the New York Terminal Radar Approach Control in 2010, but soon decided to return to Florida, coming back to the Orlando International Airport in 2011 before moving to the Miami International Airport in 2015.
In Orlando, the Herald reports, Torres served as a local union president for the NATCA from 2013 to 2015, and was again elected union president at the Miami airport in 2019.
‘Being elected twice as president speaks to how beloved he was and looked up to,’ said Doug Church, deputy director of public affairs for the union.
Santa also said Torres worked ‘extremely hard’ to improve the working conditions of controllers and the safety of the National Airspace System, saying: ‘Narciso touched so many people with his warmth and kindness, both within NATCA, in the facilities he worked and in every interaction he had.
‘Like so many thousands of our members, Narciso had such a deep love of all things aviation, and of flying, as evidenced by this flight on a beautiful South Florida day where he was doing what he loved,’ Santa continued.
‘This loss hurts so deeply,’ he added. ‘Narciso will never be forgotten.’
Authorities say they were able to rescue two of the other people on board the single-engine plane after it crashed into a car on a bridge in Miami
The plane crashed into the car on a causeway near Haulover Park around 12.50pm on Saturday. An injured person can we seen lying on the sidewalk
The plane Torres was on Saturday afternoon was traveling from Fort Lauderdale International Airport and was headed to Key West International Airport when it crashed.
Its flight path seemed to indicate the pilot was trying to land on Collins Avenue before crashing into the bridge and a vehicle, sparking a large fire.
By the time fire crews responded, they found the plane engulfed in flames and quickly set to work extinguishing the blaze.
‘We had three Miami-Dade Fire Rescue lifeguards who were on the scene first and started assisting patients,’ Fire Rescue spokesperson Erika Benitez told NBC Miami.
‘Within just a few minutes, several other units arrived, and when they arrived, they did see an aircraft down in flames, in addition to a vehicle that had been hit by the aircraft.’
Footage from the scene shows the plane in pieces on the causeway bridge, while a red minivan is completely destroyed nearby.
A video a cyclist took also shows civilians rushing toward the accident as smoke started rising from the plane.
Federal Aviation Association and National Transportation Safety Board investigators are now investigating the incident, and the Department of Environmental Resources Management has been notified due to fuel runoff from the plane.
Citizens watched on as the plane burned. Moments after the crash, people were seen running toward the crash to help
A part of the plane’s wing can be seen lying on the causeway as it’s fully engulfed in flames and smoke
A public bus and several cars were seen stopped on the bridge and traffic is expected to be heavily delayed