MIAMI (Reuters) - A day-long search failed to find a man who is presumed dead after he was reported to have jumped or fallen from a small private airplane as it flew off the coast of the Miami area, authorities said on Friday.
The missing man is 42-year-old Gerardo Nales, a resident of Key Biscayne, an island not far from the spot where the plane's pilot said he jumped or fell into the water at about 1:30 p.m. EST (1830 GMT) on Thursday.
The Miami-Dade Police Department, which led the unsuccessful search-and-rescue operation, said it was called off at nightfall but the search would resume for a final day on Saturday.
The pilot of the Piper PA-46 aircraft has not been identified and Detective Javier Baez said it was not clear if the fall of Nales, the plane's sole passenger, was deliberate or accidental.
"It's still open and ongoing," Baez said, when asked if possible foul play had been ruled out by police investigators.
Police air and marine units expanded their search area on Friday because of currents and strong winds. It was not immediately clear if the search area would undergo any further changes on Saturday.
In a recording of his "Mayday" call to air traffic controllers, the pilot can be heard blaming the incident on his passenger.
"You said you've got a passenger that fell out of your plane?" an air traffic controller asked.
"That's correct, sir," the pilot responded. "He opened the back door and he just fell out the plane."
(Reporting by David Adams and Tom Brown; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)