Heroes: U.S. Coast Guard, Royal Bahamas Defense Force rescue 5 waiting on wings of crashed plane
Coast Guard members on board an HC-144 fixed-wing surveillance aircraft were the first to spot the plane’s occupants, who were sitting on the wings of the downed aircraft in shallow water
June 7, 2023 8:31am
Updated: June 7, 2023 8:31am
The U.S. Coast Guard and Royal Bahamas Defence Force helped rescue five individuals after their plane crashed 10 miles north of Andrés Island in the Bahamas, authorities said on Thursday.
The U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Miami received a report about a plane crash about 10 nautical miles north of Andros Island, a small island in the Bahamas, the Royal Bahamas Police Force said during a press conference.
The plane, a single-engine Piper PA-32 with a U.S. registration, had departed the San Andros Airport and was en route to Palm Beach International Airport in West Palm Beach, Florida when it crashed at around 3:10 p.m. after “the pilot encountered issues and attempted to return to Andros Island,” the Aircraft Accident Investigation Authority said.
"The pilot was able to land the aircraft safely into shallow waters, without any casualties," police said.
Coast Guard members on board an HC-144 fixed-wing surveillance aircraft were the first to spot the plane’s occupants, who were sitting on the wings of the downed aircraft in shallow water.
Once found, three Royal Bahamas Defense Force rescue ships, as well as a privately-owned boat, arrived at the site to rescue the passengers and bring them back home.
“Thankfully no one was injured!” the Coast Guard said in a social media post. “Bravo Zulu (well done) to all who responded!!!”
The crash remains under investigation. However, the Aircraft Accident Investigation Authority said that the crash was caused by “mechanical issues.”
Keith Russel, the civilian that participated in the rescue, said he was picking up supplies from the airport when a pilot asked him for his help with the use of his high-speed boat. After setting out on his boat, Russel spotted the Coast Guard plane circling above the water.
“I see the Coast Guard circling and sure enough I got down there, and the plane was there in the water,” he said. “The passengers and the pilot were on top of the plane with a life raft and everything was there.”
Russel boarded the passengers onto his ship and brought them back to dry land. Once and land, they declined to receive medical attention.
"I was just thankful that I was able to go out there and help. You know, at the end of the day, my goal was to try to do my best to save their lives," Russel said.