Rescue of pilot community effort following plane crash near Myrtle Beach State Park

Updated: May. 10, 2017 at 6:34 PM EDT
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A small plane crashed into the ocean near Myrtle Beach State Park on Tuesday. (Source: Ricky...
A small plane crashed into the ocean near Myrtle Beach State Park on Tuesday. (Source: Ricky Brown)

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – The National Transportation Safety Board will not be investigating the events that led to a small plane crashing into the ocean near Myrtle Beach State Park on Tuesday, according to a spokesman.

According to Terry Williams, NTSB spokesman, the agency is gathering information on the crash, but won't start an investigation. He added that is more in-depth due to the launching of a team to determine the probable cause of an airplane crash.

Right now, the NTSB is simply trying to gather preliminary information, but nothing on what led to the plane going down, Williams said.

The crash happened shortly after 5 p.m. Tuesday. The pilot reportedly took off from Myrtle Beach International Airport and then reported engine trouble, Myrtle Beach Fire Deputy Chief Tom Gwyer previously said.

At that point, the pilot ditched the plane in the water. He got out and was thrown a life jacket from a helicopter circling above.

The pilot did not suffer severe injuries in the crash.

James Wasserman is accustom to picking people up who have fallen into the ocean after working for eight years with Downwind Sails Watersports, but he said Tuesday was the first time he rescued someone who had crashed a plane.

"I just had the mindset that I was going out there to help somebody that I knew needed some help," Wasserman said.

He said he didn't witness the plane land on the water off Myrtle Beach State Park.

"We saw Oceanfront Helicopters fly over. They were just hovering over the water and we were trying to figure out what in the world was going on," he said.

However, Wasserman heard from a woman on the beach that a plane had gone down, so he decided to launch a jet ski and, within minutes, ended up on the crash scene.

"When I pulled up to the pilot in the water, you could no longer see the plane," he said. "He was in the water by himself. Oceanfront Helicopters had dropped him a Jim Buoy float and he was holding onto that float for dear life."

Wasserman got the man out of the water.

"I reached down, extended my hand to him," he said. "His words to me were, 'Man I'm really glad you're here.'"

He then brought the pilot to shore.

"I told him we had him," Wasserman said. "I said, 'Buddy, you're safe now man.'"

He said the man was relieved when he got him onto the jet ski, but was distraught about what had just happened.

"The man had just crashed his airplane. He was dazed and confused, had no idea what was going on," he said.

Wasserman said he was happy to be part of a community effort to rescue the pilot.

"I'm glad that we could all be out there to make a tragedy just an accident," he said. "Loss of life anytime is not a good thing. I'm glad we could pull him out of the water and get him to the beach safe and sound."

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