HALIFAX, Mass. — Officials are investigating what caused a small plane to crash into East Monponsett Lake in Halifax on Saturday morning.
“I turned the corner and there’s a plane in the water sinking and the guy is standing on top yelling, ‘help,’” said Aaron Sellers, a local resident.
The Halifax Fire Department said the pilot was the only person aboard the Piper PA-28 plane when it took off out of Marshfield and made a forced landing into the water around 11 a.m.. Halifax Police said the pilot was not injured and was rescued by residents on Lake Street.
Neighbors used a canoe to reach him as he balanced on the sinking plane when help arrived.
“We grabbed the paddleboard from next door, tried to drop it in, [but] weren’t going anywhere with that," Sellers added. “[We] grabbed this canoe next door and my brother-in-law took it all the way out.”
Bill Taylor, another neighbor, said it was his canoe that Sellers’ brother-in-law used to help rescue the pilot.
“They came running over, banging on the windows, [asking], ‘you have an oar for the canoe?’” Taylor said.
He then ran to his shed to grab the oars and watched in awe as the man fought through the thick ice to get to the pilot.
“The plane was pretty much on top when it started, but by the time he got out there the guy was standing on top of the plane,” Taylor said. “And it was up to his knees when they got there with the canoe.”
Sellers said his brother-in-law used the oars to break the ice on both sides of the canoe as he paddled through the icy water. It took almost 15 minutes to reach the pilot, who was nearly up to his chest in the freezing water when help arrived.
“He was panicking,” Sellers said. “He was worried, he couldn’t swim. He was just screaming for help. From the shore, we tried to calm him down.”
Neighbors helped pull the pilot out of the boat and let him warm up inside their homes. Police said the pilot did not go to the hospital after being evaluated by EMTs.
That pilot’s longtime girlfriend released a statement about the crash to Boston 25 News on Sunday night.
Nearly eight and a half hours after the crash, firefighters from Halifax pulled the aircraft out of the water.
The Federal Aviation Administration said it will investigate the crash. Neighbors who helped the pilot said he mentioned mechanical issues.
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