Good Samaritans to the rescue! Gerald Kerr, the 78-year-old pilot and Elizabeth Reynolds, the 72-year-old passenger are going to be okay after crashing their plane into the water near Albert Whitted Airport.
They’re extremely lucky to be alive. The coast guard tells ABC Action News if it wasn’t for people brave enough to jump in and save them, they may not have survived.
Grant Burns with the Coast Guard Sector St. Pete explains it was a scary site, "the wing of the plane was hanging on the edge of the runway and the rest of the plane was in the water. The cockpit was half full with water at the time we arrived."
Burns says Kerr tried to take off from Albert Whitted Airport around 10:40 a.m. Friday, but didn’t get the small plane high enough.
He smashed part of his plane into a seawall, tumbled into the water below, as that water gushed into the cockpit.
Two employees from a nearby airport hanger jumped into the water and rushed to rescue Kerr and Reynolds, prying open the cockpit door. Another person in a boat also stopped to help.
"We always appreciate good Samaritans help. We're not always first on scene so it was good for them to be there at the right spot, right time,” Burns explained.
By the time coast guard arrived, the plane had 3 feet of water inside.
"I'm glad we were able to respond as quick as we did,” Burns added.
Luckily, the coast guard station was only a couple hundred feet away, where ambulances were waiting to take the pair to the hospital.
Amazingly, both Kerr and Reynolds are expected to be okay. ABC Action News reached out to the good Samaritans who dove into this water to save them, but neither wanted to be recognized for their amazing deed.
— USCGSoutheast (@USCGSoutheast) September 1, 2017
According to dispatch, the incident happened on runway 18.
Albert Whitted Airport is owned and operated by the City of St. Petersburg. Commercial airlines do not operate out of the airport. Private or "recreational" aviators mainly fly in and out of the airport. There are also a number of aviation businesses based at Albert Whitted Airport. More than 80 percent of the planes at the airport are single-engine planes.