‘He was sinking’: Rescuer recalls saving pilot who crashed into Halifax lake

HALIFAX, MASS. (WHDH) - The man who canoed out to rescue a pilot who crash-landed into a Halifax lake on Saturday said the pilot was sinking fast before the bold rescue.

“By the time I got to him, he was probably up to his knees in water,” John Keegan recalled.

Keegan was one of several neighbors who saw the plane land on the icy East Monponsett lake.

“When the plane hit the water it just kind of exploded. You knew right away that you just had to go get him cause he was sinking,” Keegan said.

Keegan quickly grabbed a canoe and started paddling out to the pilot, who had climbed on top of his sinking plane and was screaming that he couldn’t swim. But Keegan had to break through the ice the entire way out to the plane.

“He was on the wing as it was starting to go down, and I yelled to him to jump to the top of the plane, I was doing my best to get to him,” Keegan recalled.

But he reached the man in time, paddling him to shore with no injury. First responders ultimately used an airboat to remove the plane from the lake.

“Good thing he got in quick the canoe was actually taking on water, the ice poked some holes in the bottom of it, so it was started to fill on us,” Keegan said. “But we made it back in, got dried off and everybody was OK.”

Officials are still investigating what led to the plane’s crash.

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