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Quick-thinking kayakers are being hailed as heroes after helping rescue a pilot whose single-engine plane crashed into an icy creek in Maryland on Monday morning, authorities said.
The plane crashed into Beards Creek in Edgewater near Lee Airport shortly before 10:30 a.m., according to Maryland State Police.
The Piper Cherokee aircraft was piloted by Steve Couchman, 71, of Frederick.
His plane began sputtering shortly after takeoff from Lee Airport, police said.
Couchman was rescued, police say, by three alert kayakers.
“Two nearby civilians and an on-duty Anne Arundel County Police Department officer who heard the call, used three kayaks to navigate the icy creek to assist the pilot. As the plane sank, the pilot exited his plane and stood on the wing. Once the kayakers were close enough, the pilot was able to hold on to one to stay afloat,” police said in a statement.
Shortly after, personnel from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources arrived by boat, police said. There, an officer cut the ice and pulled the pilot into the boat. Couchman was taken by ambulance to the hospital.
Edgewater is about 35 miles south of Baltimore.
The kayakers’ quick response prevented the pilot from suffering from hypothermia, Lt. Jennifer Macallair of the Anne Arundel County Fire Department said in a video posted by NBC affiliate WBAL of Baltimore. Macallair said the pilot’s injuries were not considered life-threatening.
“Their efforts were heroic today,” she said, referring to the two civilian kayakers. “Our crews were dealing with ice on the creek this morning, which is obviously very dangerous for anyone in the water. Hypothermia can set in within minutes. So the fact that these two people had able to recognize what had happened and getting in their kayaks and going there, probably saved his life.
The Federal Aviation Administration confirmed in a statement the type of plane that crashed and said it happened just west of the airport. The cause of the crash was not immediately known Monday.
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Kayakers hailed as heroes for saving pilot from icy creek after plane crash
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