Game Warden pilot hospitalized after crashing plane into Lady Bird Lake

A small single-engine plane crashed in Lady Bird Lake Thursday afternoon, says ATCEMS.

EMS received a call about the plane in the lake west of the I-35 bridge in the area of I-35 and East Avenue around 2 p.m. Thursday.

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  (Linda Osborne)

Texas Parks and Wildlife (TPWD) says one of their Game Warden pilots was the person controlling this aircraft, and he was the only occupant on board. The pilot was performing a test flight after the aircraft received routine maintenance. He reported having mechanical issues before crashing into the water.

The pilot was reportedly rescued from his aircraft by two bystanders paddleboarding in the area. One of those bystanders was Nicholas Compton, an employee of Austin Paddle Shack, a kayak and paddleboard rental company located just feet away from where the crash occurred.

Compton says he heard the plane crash and used his paddleboard to go check out the scene. Compton says there was another bystander that helped him rescue the pilot.

"About 80 yards from the paddleshack I saw the plane," Compton said. "There was a lady out there, [the pilot] was hanging on to her paddleboard and then so I immediately put the life jacket on him. He was pretty incoherent, I think there was smoke inhalation going on from the plane."

Compton says the pilot was able to hang onto his and the other bystander's paddleboards as they paddled him to shore before a paramedic was able to help. 

The pilot was transported to Dell Seton Medical Center with potentially serious injuries, ATCEMS says.

TPWD says the pilot has since been released from the hospital and did not sustain any major injuries. The department was able to remove the plane from the water.

The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are conducting an investigation into the plane crash. TPWD says they cannot provide any further information until the investigation has concluded. 

The NTSB says a preliminary report is expected to be published in 15 days, but full investigations currently take between 12-24 months to complete.