12:51 PM PT -- The FAA tells TMZ ... "A Robinson R44 helicopter crashed in the Atlantic Ocean near Miami Beach, Fla., under unknown circumstances at approximately 1:20 PM local time today. Three persons were onboard. The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate. The NTSB will be in charge of the investigation and will provide additional updates."
A helicopter went down in Miami -- crash landing in the ocean, no less ... and mere feet from swimmers.
The accident happened Saturday afternoon in South Beach, with Miami Beach PD releasing surveillance footage that shows the moment the chopper starts to descend from the sky.
As you can see, it comes into frame out of nowhere ... and then heads straight down into the water incredibly close to the shore. Indeed, it appears there were people out by where the aircraft ended up touching down. Fortunately, it doesn't look like any of them were hit.
People were expectedly shocked from the sight, and it looks like the authorities responded quickly. Jet skis on hand immediately rode out to the site, and eventually ... boats arrived on the scene as well to fish out the passengers and to clear the area.