A helicopter crashed onto Miami's famous beach on Saturday afternoon just meters away from swimmers, injuring two seriously. A chilling video of the incident shows the helicopter nosediving into the waters leaving swimmers scared as they rush for safety. A federal inquiry has been launched into the incident.
According to a tweet from the police, the two injured people were sent to Jackson Memorial Hospital. Their conditions were described to be "stable." According to Miami Beach Police Public Information Officer Ernesto Rodriguez, a third passenger was not hurt in the incident. It is not known what led to the accident.
According to police, The Robinson R44 helicopter came down in the water near 10th Street and Ocean Drive at about 1 pm on Saturday afternoon. Video footage showed the helicopter flying near the beach when it suddenly started descending at a rapid pace.
It fell into the blue Atlantic seas, which were teeming with hundreds of swimmers and paddlers enjoying the warm weather in Florida at that time.
Moments later, the chopper hits the water just off Tenth Street, sending an almighty splash into the air.
Luckily, there were no casualties but two people were reportedly injured. The helicopter had three persons on board when it crashed, according to police, although it's unclear who was the pilot.
"This afternoon at 1:10 p.m., MBPD received a call of a helicopter crash in the ocean near 10 Street. Police and @MiamiBeachFire responded to the scene along with several partner agencies. Two occupants have been transported to Jackson Memorial Hospital in stable condition," police said.
"The beach area between 9 to 11 Street is currently closed. The FAA is responding to the scene."
According to the police, the accident could have been fatal. Within seconds of the aircraft hitting the water, adjacent jet skis sped over to assist the injured. Shortly later, boats arrived on the scene. It's still unknown whether the helicopter that crashed was a commercial or public plane, and there's no word on why it crashed.
An investigation has been launched into the incident.
"The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate. The NTSB will be in charge of the investigation and will provide additional updates," the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) said in a statement.
Several beachgoers were left speechless after witnessing the event and shared images and video of the disaster on Twitter. "I'm sittin on south beach Miami... a f****** helicopter has just crashed into the sea in front of us," said one user.
"Dude, a f****** helicopter just went down in Miami. Oh my god," a person can be heard saying in a video shared by another user on the microblogging site.
Another traveler, Ana Diaz, was swimming in the ocean when she heard her family calling for her to come to shore as they watched the helicopter descend, she told WPLG. "I was really scared and I was swimming towards my family," Diaz told WPLG. "I was very worried about it and it was a very tough moment."
In another crash on Saturday evening, a police department helicopter in Huntington Beach, California plunged into the water in the city's Newport Beach area, as dozens of onlookers witnessed the crash. A 14-year police department veteran, identified as 44-year-old Nicholas Vella, died in the crash.