Landing civil or commercial aircraft away from a maintained facility constructed for that purpose is a perilous task. While viral videos make emergency landings seem easy under the right circumstance, these landings can quickly go wrong. This happened to be the case in a tragic crash yesterday in Miami, Florida, where someone lost their life.
Based on eyewitness accounts and statements by Miami-Dade Police, a Cessna 172 carrying three occupants was flying from Fort Lauderdale International Airport to Key West International Airport. At some point during the flight, the single-engine aircraft lost engine power. The Cessna attempted to land on the Haulover Inlet Bridge, which carries Collins Avenue.
As the Cessna was about to touchdown, an SUV was crossing the bridge from the opposite direction. The plane struck the SUV, flipped over, smashed against the road surface and burst into flames. Two people on the aircraft were injured in the crash and hospitalized. The third occupant, a 36-year-old air traffic controller, was killed. It’s not clear who was in control of the aircraft during the incident.
Thankfully, the woman driving the SUV and her two young children on board only suffered minor injuries and were only hospitalized as a precautionary measure. A spokesperson for Miami-Dade Police said, “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. So, we’re thankful for that, but it’s still unfortunate that we did lose somebody on this scene.”
The widely circulated footage and images of the crash site are harrowing. The burning Cessna wreckage and the SUV’s caved-in front end portray an accident that you would assume had more casualties. It is incredible that the SUV’s passenger cabin largely withstood being struck by a small single-engine airplane.