Body Found in Wreckage of Small Plane That Crashed in Everglades West of Homestead

A person's body was found near the wreckage of a small plane that was discovered in a swampy area of the Everglades in South Florida late Wednesday, officials said.

The single-engine Cessna 152 was found about seven miles west of Homestead, the FAA said in a statement. Miami-Dade Fire Rescue found the wreckage around 9:30 p.m. Wednesday in Everglades National Park, officials said.

Only the pilot was on board. Footage appeared to show a body amid the wreckage with an alligator lurking nearby.

The victim's roommate identified the pilot as Mark Ukaere.

Officials with the FAA said the owner of the plane notified them Wednesday night that the plane went missing from Miami Executive Airport on Saturday evening.

The pilot had a license and trained at Dean International Flight Training at the airport, according to owner Robert Dean.

Dean said the pilot took off with an instructor Saturday afternoon but later that evening he went back up alone.

"The instructor came into the building, left him out there to bring the books and write up all the information. He did not bring the books back into the place," Dean said. "He decided to go fly himself, so he basically took the aircraft away from here without any authorization. Our policy at the school is very very critical, that every time anybody flies in the evening, they must fly with another pilot."

School officials first thought the pilot was on a cross-country flight and initially called other companies where they thought the plane might be.

"We started the whole investigation a couple of days ago as far as looking at search and rescue for this aircraft, but the individual was qualified to fly the aircraft," Dean said. "But he broke every single company policy."

The school notified the FBI on Wednesday morning. However, NTSB regulations require "immediate notification" when an aircraft is "overdue and is believed to have been in an accident."

The same plane had an emergency landing incident last December, said Ahmed Mohamed, a student pilot at Dean Flight Training. 

"This [plane] just has bad luck, that's it," Mohamed said.

Officials from the FAA and NTSB are investigating the incident. The Miami-Dade Police Department's homicide bureau is investigating the death.

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