Okanagan man helps rescue float plane crash victims
Craig Miller was barbecuing with his family on Monday when he saw a float plane coming in for a landing on Okanagan Lake outside of his West Kelowna home.
“It didn’t sound right, so we took a look and he was nose down,” he told Global News. “I jumped in the boat and my wife called 911.”
Miller is a float plane pilot himself and knew he had to act fast to help whoever was in the overturned aircraft.
“I knew they only had a certain amount of time,” Miller said. “I knew that we had to get over there because if they couldn’t get the seat belts undone, they would be upside down in the water.”
Emergency crews were called to Okanagan Lake in the Sunnyside neighborhood of West Kelowna just before 5 p.m. Monday responding to call of a plane crash.
The small float plane was carrying two people: the pilot, a 72-year-old man from Alberta, and his 59-year-old passenger.
Miller, who jumped in his boat, was the first to arrive on scene.
‘I didn’t see any people and it scared me,” he said. “I started taking my boots off. I was going to jump in but as I rounded the plane, I saw one guy on the other side trying to pull the other guy out of the front of the plane.”
Miller says he first helped get the younger man onto the swim grid of his boat and then together they helped the older man, who suffered some injuries.
“The elderly guy wasn’t moving much,” he said. “His back was sore and his leg was cut open, lacerations I guess from the plane when they hit.”
Police on scene told Global News that pilot error was likely the cause of the crash landing because the wheels of the plane were down when the aircraft made contact with the water.
“They were prepared, they had their life jackets on and it’s just a common mistake, landing with your wheels down,” Miller said. “It happens to float plane pilots all the time.”
The Transportation Safety Board has launched an investigation into the aviation incident.
Miller said he’s just happy that one float plane pilot was able to help another.
“I’m glad I could help somebody, somebody might have to help me one day,” he said.
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