The rescue mission ended Wednesday morning when a fourth and final casualty was dragged out of the watery Everglades after two small airplanes collided in mid-air on Tuesday afternoon. But the searchers continued to comb the razor-sharp sawdust and pluck it through the muck, hoping to find clues that could explain what caused the fatal accident.
"Now, the official FAA [Federal Aviation Admnistration] and NTSB [National Transportation Safety Board] investigation brings out why the accident happened and how it happened," said Miami-Dade Detective and spokesman Alvaro Zabaleta. "We're done."
On Wednesday morning, rescuers from Miami-Dade dragged the body of Carlos Alfredo Zanetti Scarpati (22) from the Everglades. Also killed in the crash were Jorge Sanchez, 22, Ralph Knight, 72, and Nisha Sejwal, 1
Scarpati's body was found near a plane flown by Sanchez shortly before 10 o'clock, reports Zabaleta. He said Knight, a subcontractor of FAA and Sejwal, flew in the other plane. Sejwal, Zabaleta said, is doing a routine air traffic check to maintain her certification.
The district police spokesman said the swampy, muddy Everglades made the search for the victims difficult. One of the planes, Zabaleta said, broke into several pieces.
"So we have to search for parts to put the puzzle together," he said. Zabaleta said victim advocates are already working to console grieving family members.
Both aircraft, according to Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, belonged to Dean International Flight School at the airport at 12800 SW 145th Ave. FAA records show that since 2007 there have been 26 accidents or incidents involving aircraft from the same flight school.
The Midair Crash closed Tamiami Trail most of the day as police officers from Miami-Dade Police, Fire Department, Miccosukee Police, the Florida Highway Patrol and the National Park Rangers sped to the scene. Nearby airboat operators rushed to the Everglades to help with the search. Miami Dade detective Alvaro Zabaleta said on Tuesday from a staged area a few miles from the crash site that homicide detectives had identified the two planes were probably training.
The National National Security Council and the FAA are investigating.
"What makes us think that you have a pilot and a trainer or trainer and a student, and a trainer and a student in another plane," he said  A family member of Knight, the 72-year-old who was killed in the crash said he was a seasoned pilot who taught his two sons how to fly.
"They all grew up flying," said Knight's daughter-in-law, Dieder Knight, who was on her way to the airport Wednesday morning to pick up her husband. "He [Ralph] was a private pilot," who often flew to the Bahamas.
Daniel Miralles, an angler who frequently fishes in canals near the airport in the afternoon, said he had timely seen the planes collide and record videos of falling debris on his cell phone.
"I heard a strange noise that sounded like an airplane, but it sounded too close, it sounded like an 18-wheeler driving 100 mph down the road," Miralles said.
The aircraft arrived in a remote area accessible only by airboat. Dozens of rescue vehicles helping with the rescue effort gathered at Coopertown Airboat, 227th Avenue, and Southwest Eighth Street, about a dozen miles northwest of Executive Airport.
"Our crews were out here this morning training for incidents as well," said Andine Alvarez, head of the Miami-Dade Fire Marine, 1965.9002 Alvarez said when crews arrived, they boarded their fire rescue boats and other private companies ready were to help and search for rubble. After about half a mile they found a crashed plane. They marked the debris and marked the GPS position, Alvarez said.
"About this time, we received calls from a possible second plane and a possible blast in the air, which led us to believe that it was mid-air collision," said Alvarez. With the help of the air rescue, the crews then found the second rubble site about 400 meters away.
In the late afternoon, the rescuers searched the two wreck sites. The buzz of airboats was heard all evening behind a thick brush between the wreck and Southwest Eighth Street, the main route through the Everglades.
Shortly before 6 pm rescue workers were deployed in the industrial lighting, suggesting that the investigation would take long after sunset. The area is free of buildings and street lights and becomes pitch dark at night.
On Tuesday afternoon, a few friends and family of pilots on Dean International waited anxiously for information at the Executive Airport. Michael Coppo was standing in front of the flight school, waiting for information about Sanchez, an old friend he had met in Miami Dade College's aviation program.
Coppo said Sanchez was on an "overland trip," meaning that he traveled 50 nautical miles to another airport with a student and then back. Coppo said Sanchez left at 9 am and should have been back by 1 pm at the time of the crash.
Coppo used to fly from Dean but stopped about a year ago. He guessed that he and Sanchez were flying for 100 hours before Coppo left the flight school.
Sanchez – Black Ford Mustang with license plate frame "I'd rather fly" sat in the parking lot in front of the school.  His older brother, Julio Sanchez, said that for about four or five months, Jorge could not achieve the required 1,500 hours of flight time that a pilot must have by federal law before applying to a regional airline.
"In his mind, he was a pilot the minute he was born," Sanchez said of his brother.
The younger Sanchez began his flight training in high school and then at the George T. Baker Aviation Technical College before he obtained his private, advertising and instructor pilots licenses at Miami-Dade College, his brother said. Julio Sanchez, who is also a pilot, said he would continue training in honor of his brother.
"He was on his way to collecting all the hours in the direction of his destination, it was his and my dream, the road map we both made," said Julio, 28. "I followed in his footsteps and I will continue in his honor. "
Another victim, Sejwal, enrolled for Dean International on her Facebook page in September 2017.
Her love of flying comes from her Facebook posts, which contain hashtags. aviationforlife and #pilotlife.
The Dean International website suggests that it offers first-grade instruction for student pilots, advanced courses for private and professional pilots, and multi-engine flight training. What it does not say is that the FAA records showed more than two dozen accidents and incidents from 2007 to 2017.
In May, a Cessna 152 from Dean perished in the Everglades and took two people to the hospital. A year ago, a Cessna 172 from Dean International landed in Crandon Boulevard, Key Biscayne, a week after a Cessna 152 crashed a student pilot in the Everglades. The student pilot who was working on an advanced certification died.