- The body was found Saturday morning in a mangrove area near Miami
- Medical examiner confirms body is that of 42-year-old Gerardo Nales
- Pilot tells authorities his passenger fell out at 1,800 feet
The body of a man found last weekend in a mangrove area near Miami is that of a 42-year-old passenger who fell two days earlier from a small plane, Florida authorities said Tuesday.
The Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner Department identified the body as Gerardo Nales, of Key Biscayne.
The body was discovered Saturday at 10:30 a.m., he said.
Authorities had been looking for the Key Biscayne man since a pilot's mayday distress call sent them scrambling.
"I have a door ajar," said the pilot of the single-engine Piper PA-46 aircraft, "and a passenger that fell down."
Nales, the only other person aboard, "opened the back door and he just fell down the plane," the pilot said, according to a recording of his conversation with air traffic controllers.
The pilot, whose name has not been released, said he was flying Thursday afternoon at an altitude of 1,800 feet about two miles from shore when the incident occurred.
A police spokeswoman said Saturday after the body was found that it was unclear whether Nales accidentally fell out of the plane or deliberately jumped.
Homicide detectives are involved, as they are in all death investigations, Miami-Dade police spokeswoman Sgt. Robin Pinkard said last week.
The private plane went on to land safely at Kendall-Tamiami Executive Airport, the Federal Aviation Administration said.