Mother of Everglades Plane Crash Victim Files Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against Flight School

The suit, filed Thursday, comes the same day the NTSB released its preliminary reports on both planes involved in the crash.

What to Know

  • The mother of a flight student who died in the plane collision over the Everglades filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Dean International
  • Carlos Scarpati, 22, was the fourth and final victim who was recovered from the wreckage
  • The NTSB released preliminary reports that state both planes collided "nearly straight on" about 1,500 feet in the air.

The mother of one of the victims of the fatal Everglades plane collision has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the flight school that operated both aircrafts involved in the crash.

Filed Thursday, the lawsuit, obtained by NBC 6 Investigators, comes the same day the National Transportation Safety Board released its preliminary reports that state both planes, a Cessna 172N and a Piper PA134, collided "nearly straight on" about 1,500 feet in the air.

The planes, which operated out of the now-closing Dean International Flight School, collided midair nine miles northwest of Miami Executive Airport on July 17. Four people — 72-year-old Ralph Knight, 22-year-old Jorge Sanchez, 19-year-old Nisha Sejwal and 22-year-old Carlos Scarpati — were killed.

Scarpati's mother, Aurora Scarpati Ripalda, filed the lawsuit on behalf of her son, who was a student at Dean International. That morning, Scarpati and his instructor Sanchez departed in the Cessna 172N for a flight-training session. The lawsuit alleges that the school did not inform or warn the two that another student-and-instructor pair — Sejwal and Knight — were going to be flying in the same area and altitude.

"At the time of the collision, the Piper was flying northwest and the Cessna was flying southeast," an NTSB report stated.

The NTSB reported both planes fell rapidly from the sky, with the wreckage of one aircraft coming down just 600 feet from where the planes crashed, and the wreckage of the other plane falling 1,300 feet from the collision point. The skies were clear with 10 miles visibility, investigators said.

Witnesses reported seeing the pieces of the aircraft falling from the sky. Crews responded by helicopter and airboat to recover the bodies from the wreckage of both planes.

The suit also alleges the school sent Scarpati out on a flight he was not adequately trained for. His body was the fourth and final one recovered from the crash.

NBC 6 Investigators' attempts to reach out to the owners of the flight school were unsuccessful.

Nearly a week after the collision, Dean International announced to its students that it will be closing its doors. The school, which has been open since 1995 and operated out of Miami Executive Airport in West Kendall, cited the plane crashes and lower student attendance as factors in the closing.

NBC 6 obtained reports from both the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration detailing a series of accidents or incidents involving the company – 29 in total before the latest two crashes. In all, five people were killed in the incidents prior to July 17.

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