Paddleboarders help rescue pilot who crashed small plane in Lady Bird Lake
AUSTIN, Texas - Aerial footage from Austin-Travis County EMS showed a Cessna aircraft submerged in Lady Bird Lake Thursday afternoon.
"There’s been some crazy days, but this certainly tops it," said paddlerboarder Nick Compton.
Around 2 p.m., the small plane crashed into the lake. Viewer pictures showed the aircraft sinking into the water. Another picture showed what appeared to be a person on top of the plane as it continues to go under.
Eventually, only the plane’s tail and the edge of one wing were left sticking out of the water.
Shortly after the crash, nearby paddleboarders like Compton rushed to the aid of the pilot who managed to free themselves from the wreckage.
"I went out there with a life jacket and sure enough 80 yards away from the paddle shack I saw the plane. I immediately put the life jacket on him, he was pretty incoherent. He was hanging on to our paddleboards and we paddled him in," said Compton.
A viewer video showed Compton, along with the other paddleboarders, get to shore with what appeared to be the pilot on the back. He was rushed to the hospital.
"It’s nuts still processing what just happened," said Compton.
Following that crash, Austin police and fire blocked off the area on the water where the plane landed. They also sent in a diving crew to check out the crash sight.
Texas Parks and Wildlife confirmed the pilot was a game warden. They say he was performing a test flight after doing maintenance on the aircraft.
"He reported problems. The plane came down with no injuries to bystanders. He was taken to the hospital that’s what we know at this time," said Craig Chandler a Texas Parks and Wildlife spokesperson.
A follow-up investigation is underway into how and why the plane crashed. In the meantime, Compton said his thoughts are with the pilot.
"I just have the best wishes for the pilot and hope he has a speedy recovery."