Miami-Dade County

Miami-Dade Police find body believed to be passenger who fell from plane

Investigators believe they found the body of a man who plummeted to his death from a plane in mid-air on Thursday.

The body, possibly that of Gerardo Nales, was spotted Saturday morning by Miami-Dade Police Marine Patrol officers in a Biscayne Bay mangrove swamp accessible only by boat just south of Southwest 184th Street. Police said the discovery came on the final day of a three-day dragnet that had recovery crews in helicopters and boats scouring the bay from Haulover Beach to Turkey Point.

“We’re presuming that it’s Gerardo Nales, but we’re waiting for the Medical Examiner to positively identify him,” said Lt. John Jenkins, Jr., a police spokesman.

Police and the Federal Aviation Administration have declined to release information about the pilot and passenger, such as how they knew each other or why they were in the air. Police have also withheld the name of the pilot who flew with Nales out of Kendall-Tamiami Executive Airport.

Homicide detectives continue to investigate.

“There are still some questions that need to be asked about the circumstances,” said Jenkins, who would not comment on a report that Nales is believed to have killed himself.

Investigators have been looking into Nales’ reported death since early Thursday afternoon, when the pilot of a Piper Malibu — identified by other media as Felipe Fons — issued a mayday call and said his passenger had just opened the plane door and fallen out some 2,000 feet in the air.

The Piper was believed to have been roughly eight miles southeast of Tamiami at the time, according to the FAA.

Miami Herald staff writer Nancy San Martin contributed to this report.