A Florida news crew surveying a plane crash by helicopter caught a gruesome scene this week, capturing video of an alligator appearing to eat the body of one of the victims.
The plane had crashed in the Florida Everglades days ago after leaving on an unauthorized trip from a local flight school, the New York Post reported. The plane, a single-engine Cessna 152, had only the pilot on board when it crashed in the expansive swamp.
When a news crew from local station WPLG arrived on the scene, footage from the helicopter showed an alligator wading near a body that was next to the plane’s wreckage.
“A gator appears to be chewing on a body next to the wreckage,” WPLG managing editor Peter Burke tweeted.
The body is believed to be student pilot Mark Ukaere, WPLG reported. Ukaere’s roommate, Patrick Shedrack, said he realized something was wrong when Ukaere departed from Miami Executive Airport on Saturday and did not return.
“All he does is go to his college, (come) back home (and) on Sundays, church. That’s all,” Shedrack told WPLG.
Shedrack added that he was in shock at the crash and Ukaere’s death.
“I don’t want to believe that this thing has happened,” Shedrack said. “I don’t want to believe that.”
It was not immediately clear what may have caused the crash, but WPLG reported that the same plane was forced to make an emergency landing on a highway in December 2015. Because Ukaere left on an unauthorized flight, there was some initial confusion about where he may have been headed. Robert Dean, the owner of the flight school where he trained, told WPLG that he called around to different places where Ukaere might have flown. When he couldn’t find the student pilot, Dean called the FBI.
Dean told the news outlet that Ukaere might have become disoriented while flying in total darkness over the desolate Everglades. Student pilots must have another pilot on board when flying at night, Dean added.
The story of the news helicopter’s gruesome discovery made international headlines, going viral within hours. The U.K.’s Sun published a story within hours of the discovery that included pictures of alligators cruising around the pilot’s dead body, which was censored.
One of those censored pictures can be seen below.
It was not clear if Mark Ukaere was killed from the crash itself before being eaten by alligators. The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash.
[Featured Image by Warren Little/Getty Images]