Two Miami socialites drown after their Mercedes mysteriously rolls off ferry, bodies found 'in an embrace'
Emma Afra, 63, and Viviane Brahms, 75, were found hugging one another in their final moments after their car rolled off the ferry around 4 pm on Tuesday
MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA: Two friends who tragically died after their car rolled off a Miami ferry and plunged into the water allegedly spent their final moments in an embrace.
As divers recovered the submerged vehicle, which sunk around 4 pm on Tuesday, they found Emma Afra, 63, and Viviane Brahms, 75, hugging one another in a final embrace, the Miami Herald reports.
According to Miami-Dade Police Department, the 2019 Mercedes Benz was reportedly being shipped from the coveted Fisher Island to the mainland when the incident took place near Government Cut, a manmade shipping channel between Miami Beach and Fisher Island.
Investigators believe the car rolled off the ferry after Afra forgot to put it in park mode and hit the gas pedal by mistake, per the Herald.
The car subsequently broke through a lightweight barrier before rolling off the vessel and eventually sank 52 feet below the surface, witnesses told the outlet.
Speaking to the Herald, Coast Guard spokesman Jonathan Lally said the ferry crew places blocks beneath car tires to prevent them from rolling. It is believed the Mercedes also had these blocks on during the incident.
However, both the embrace and the failure to put the car in parking mode are yet to be confirmed by the Miami-Dade Police Department.
Both Afra and Brahms were well-known in elite social circles, with Afra regularly working with local charities like Kristi House, a nonprofit fighting child abuse and child sex trafficking. According to the report, she even co-chaired its annual dinner and auction in 2012.
Lauren Harrison, who co-chaired the fundraiser with Afra, described her as “very charming, lighthearted, sweet, very lively.”
Meanwhile, her older sister Mary Davis choked with emotion while speaking with the outlet.
“I can’t handle this. It’s so sad. She’s been a wonderful sister and great daughter to our mother,” she said.
That said, Afra’s husband Siavash “Sia” Afra reportedly died in 2016.
According to the report, Afra and Brahms attended a series of high-profile social events together. In 2017, they attended a private opening at the Mnuchin Gallery in New York City. Two years later, the duo attended Glenn Ligon’s art lecture at the Miami Design District.
“It’s a terrible tragedy,” an unidentified woman who answered the door at Brahms’ residence told the New York Post. “She was an amazing woman.”
A maritime incident investigation by the U.S. Coast Guard is currently underway, while the Miami-Dade Police Department conducts an investigation into the deaths.
Police said they are waiting for the Medical Examiner’s report to determine the official causes of death.
“Shortly before 5:00 p.m. today, a vehicle on the Fisher Island ferry ended up in the water for reasons still unknown at this point in time,” Roberto Sosa, president and CEO of Fisher Island, told the Herald in a statement.
“Fisher Island Community Association is actively assisting the various agencies involved in the ongoing recovery efforts,” Sosa added. “Our thoughts are with all those affected. We cannot confirm any additional details at this point in time.”