The pilot of a small plane crashed into Elliot Bay so he could avoid causing casualties on the ground, and has a group of boaters to thank for saving his life.
42-year-old Brendan Ross thinks his plane may have suffered from engine failure when it malfunctioned on Thursday, but he knew trying to land in the bay would save lives as he flew over Seattle.
“From that point you’ve got about 20 seconds to kind of figure out what’s going wrong, try to troubleshoot it,” Ross told KOMO News.
“Didn’t take long to realize that we weren’t going to be landing at an airport.”
“Really when you get into one of those scenarios your first thoughts are where am I going to put this plane somewhere that’s safe,” he explained.
Luckily, Ross was able to slow the plane to around 40 miles an hour before hitting the water, and had the foresight to open a window so he would be able to get out if he survived the impact.
Ross did in fact survive the water landing and quickly got out of the rapidly sinking aircraft. “I was able to force the door open, swam out,” he remarked.
Thomas Hawthorne, David Commarford, and two other friends were boating in the Puget Sound when they saw the plane go down.
“We were just hanging out out in the boat, enjoying the views of Seattle, and all of a sudden we see a plane coming in flying really low … then [it] crashed,” Commarford recalled.
The weren’t sure if they should go near the sinking plane, but saw Ross swimming and throttle over to his rescue.
One of their friends threw a rope to Ross and he was able to hold on while they towed him in.
“David grabbed his arm, and then we kind of all got over to the side of the boat and pulled him into the boat,” Hawthorne stated.
Ross had difficulty breathing and his face was covered with blood, but he was thrilled to be alive.
“It was nice to be able to catch a ride the rest of the way thanks to those good people,” he commented
“They couldn’t believe what they were seeing they said, ‘hey man we’re just out here having a few beers and we saw you go in and we thought maybe you needed help,’ and I said can I have one too?”
They took him back to a nearby pier, where paramedics were already waiting. Ross was transported to a local hospital to be treated, and then released a few hours later.
“My kids still have a dad and my wife still has a husband, I couldn’t ask for a better outcome honestly,” he said about the incident.
“That was about as well as it could have gone in terms of minimizing damage to the plane and to other people I think the worst of it is my face.”
The plane sunk several hundred feet from a pier in Elliot Bay, but it was recovered from the water over the weekend.
The aircraft will be analyzed by The National Transportation Safety Board to determine the cause of the crash.