Two women are dead after the car they were in plunged off a Miami ferry into the waters off an exclusive island with a members-only club.
Miami Fire Rescue and the Coast Guard responded Tuesday after the operator of the Fisher Island ferry reported that a vehicle had fallen off the boat, the agencies reported.
Dive crews found the vehicle near Fisher Island within hours, according to the Coast Guard. Two unresponsive women were discovered inside.
The vehicle, a blue 2019 Mercedes Benz, and the bodies were recovered overnight, a statement from the Miami-Dade Police Department said Wednesday. The victims were identified as Fisher Island resident Emma Afra, 63, and Viviane Brahms, 75, of New York.
Police and the Coast Guard are investigating, and a medical examiner will determine the causes of death.
The Fisher Island ferry shuttles people and their vehicles between Miami Beach and Fisher Island, a "private luxury community ... consistently ranked as one of the wealthiest zip codes in the U.S.," which also "boasts a beach club with one of the country's only truly private beaches" and a luxury hotel, according to the club's website.
"To board the ferry, hotel guests require pre-arranged security clearance, guaranteeing security and exclusivity," the site says. "From the moment you board the ferry, a wave of calm overtakes you, as you know the luxury, beauty and ultimate lifestyle that await you." The ferry is the only way to get between Fisher Island and the mainland.
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Roberto Sosa, president and CEO of the Fisher Island Community Association, said in a statement that island staff were cooperating with investigators and that counseling would be available to all residents, guests and employees.
"It is with heavy hearts that we share the news of the tragic loss of life of Emma Afra and Vivian Brahms who perished on Tuesday, Feb. 18, when the car they were riding on the ferry ended up in the water for reasons still to be determined," the statement said. "The entire Fisher Island community mourns their loss and our hearts and prayers go out to their families and loved ones at this very difficult time."