A ritzy South Florida island community was in shock after two women died when a Mercedes-Benz rolled off a ferry into a shipping channel.
The Miami-Dade Police Department and U.S. Coast Guard are investigating how the blue car holding Emma Afra, 63, and Viviane Brahms, 75, fell from the ferry from Fisher Island to Miami Beach on Tuesday and ended up at the bottom of a 50-foot channel.
After the car submerged, dive crews with Miami-Dade fire and police searched for the women's vehicle. Both were dead when the vehicle was recovered, and the Herald reported they were found embracing.
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The ferry totes cars to and from Fisher Island every day, according to the community association's website.
WSVN-TV reported that ferry workers typically place blocks under the tires of the vehicles they're hauling to prevent them from rolling. According to the Herald, thin netting is strung across the edge of the ferry to prevent cars from falling, rather than a metal barrier like the one on the Balboa Island ferry in Newport, California.
Robert Sosa, president of the Fisher Island Community Association, told WFOR-TV the group was fully cooperating with the investigation and that safety was a top priority.
"The entire Fisher Island community mourns their loss and our hearts and prayers go out to the victims’ families during this very difficult time," the association said.
Fisher Island is "lauded for its exclusivity and privacy" with "some of the finest amenities in the world," the community association says on its website.
Afra, who lived on the island, was known as a prominent philanthropist who worked on child abuse and sex trafficking issues.
"Emma never took no for an answer, especially when it came to doing something that would help the children and families Kristi House serves. She put her blood, sweat and tears into making sure we had great success in our fundraising efforts," Amanda Altman, CEO of anti-child sex trafficking group Kristi House, said in a statement to WSVN-TV.
Brahms, also a socialite, from Harrison, New York, in Westchester County, was longtime friends with Afra, the Herald reported.
According to the Herald, the Fisher Island ferry has operated for decades largely without incident. In 1997, a woman was killed when her family's boat and the ferry collided, the newspaper reported.
Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber said Tuesday's incident was a "jarring tragedy."
"The whole community is very shocked," he told WFOR-TV. "I have a lot of faith that the Coast Guard and cities in Miami Dade that are involved will get into a very thorough investigation to address this and make sure nothing like this ever happens again."
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Florida Fisher Island ferry deaths: Car rolls off, killing 2 women