‘Plane down:’ 911 caller reports deadly crash at North Perry Airport | Listen
The first person to call 911 on Friday afternoon to report the crash of a Cessna 172 at the North Perry Airport said he hadn’t seen anyone get out of the plane.
Flight instructor Felipe Becerra Cardenas, of Pembroke Pines, was flying the small single-engine aircraft with two passengers aboard, who were on a “discovery flight,” intended to interest the passengers in becoming pilots.
Officials said Shelby Thomas, of Port Wentworth, Ga., was seated next to Becerra Cardenas while Jamal Hall, 25, also from Georgia, was seated in the back. Thomas and Becerra Cardenas did not survive.
Hall was the only survivor. He was taken to Memorial Regional Hospital in critical condition, officials said, and was still being treated there Monday.
Pembroke Pines Police released several 911 calls Wednesday evening, one of which appeared to come from one of the victims in the plane.
The first man who called 911 reported the plane crashed on the field at the end of Runway 10R after taking off.
Aaron McCarter, an air safety investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board, told reporters at a news conference Saturday that the Cessna 172 reached a 100-foot altitude before nosediving. Both of the passengers needed to be extricated.
The first 911 caller told the operator he didn’t know how many victims were inside as bystanders rushed over to attempt to help them. The operator later told him to keep bystanders away and not to approach a dangerous area.
“It’s too late,” he said. “A lot of people already went out to try and help.”
A man from the airport’s control tower called, reporting an “alert 3,” an airplane down, on the airport’s east side.
“Somebody’s running over there. We got a plane down,” the caller appeared to tell someone in the background of the call. “Plane down.”
“Wait, why is there people running over there?” the man said to someone in the background. “Hey, people are about to cross the runway! People are about to cross the runway!” he repeated.
“All right, I need to go ma’am,” he said before hanging up.
The next call appeared to come from an Apple Watch worn by one of the victims inside the crumpled plane.
“The owner of this Apple Watch was in a severe car crash and is not responding to their watch,” an automated voice said. “This message will repeat in five seconds.”
The automated emergency message repeated, giving the longitudinal and latitudinal coordinates of the crash site.
“Caller, can you hear me?” the 911 operator asked several times during the call. The automated message repeated and repeated and repeated.
A voice could be heard briefly in the background of the call, but what the person said was inaudible.
“Are you able to tell me where you are?” the operator asked. There was no spoken response.
What sounded like labored breathing, buzzing and clunking noises were the only clear sounds throughout the call aside from the automated emergency message.
“OK, I have an approximate location to where you are, and I did put in a call for paramedics and police to respond,” the operator said. “Are you able to tell me what happened?”
Again, there was no verbal response. Several calls back to the number went to voicemail.
Becerra Cardenas earned his commercial pilot certificate in June 2020 and his flight instructor certificate in December 2022, Federal Aviation Administration records show.
The NTSB is investigating the crash and will release a preliminary report in the coming weeks.
The crash was the third from the airport in three months. The pilot of a small plane towing a banner crashed at the airport in late May and survived. The week before, another similar small plane crashed not far from the airport near a shopping plaza in Hollywood. The 28-year-old pilot in that crash died.
Sun Sentinel staff writers Shira Moolten and Jack Lemnus contributed to this report.