HALIFAX, MASS. (WHDH) - Witnessed saved a pilot from his sinking plane after it crashed into a Halifax lake Saturday, and officials are investigating what brought the plane down.
A single-engine Piper aircraft en route to Marshfield’s airport crashed 100 yards off-shore of the East Monponsett lake at noon, according to Halifax fire officials. Witnesses said they saw the plane flying low before it crashed down.
“He must’ve known he didn’t have the power,” said John McDonough, who lives by the lake. “I did hear him say he was having throttle problems. He couldn’t throttle up.”
“It looked like it was coming right for the house,” said Erin McDonough, John’s granddaughter. “And then all of a sudden it turned and the wing hit the ice and it went straight a face plant.”
The pilot climbed out of the plane onto the cockpit, but was stranded and screaming for help.
“He was panicking. He was worried he couldn’t swim,” said Aaron Sellers, who was at the lake. “He was screaming for help so we tried to calm him down from the shore, saying ‘We’re coming, we’re coming, we’re coming.’”
Sellers’ brother-in-law jumped into action, grabbing a canoe from another man and heading to the plane despite the four-inch-thick ice.
“You take the paddle and you’re basically breaking the ice as you’re going,” Sellers said. “So that’s why it took him so long to get out there.”
The pilot was rescued unharmed, but the ice made recovering the plane difficult for emergency responders.
“The biggest challenge that we had to face is getting boats out here because of the amount of ice,” said Halifax Fire Chief Jason Viveiros.
First responders used an airboat to bring the plane closer to shore, where the narrow space between neighboring houses meant officials had to cut its wings off to bring it away from the scene.
The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating why the plane went down. Viveiros said the witnesses who rushed to the pilot’s aid were a big factor in the crash not being worse than it was.
“They did a great job. They saw someone in need, they acted,” Viveiros said. “They definitely made a difference.”
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