Although personal watercraft are widely established as indispensable tools for emergency response agencies worldwide, every once in a while a private citizen finds themselves in the right place at the right time to make a difference.
At approximately 2:30 on the afternoon of Saturday, September 6th, George Daly seized that opportunity after spotting a small banner plane lose power and nose over into the sea, just off the coast of Florida’s Miami Beach. According to WSVN.com, Daly immediately mounted his rented personal watercraft and sped directly toward the crash site. “As soon as I [got] out there, he was in the water. He had a minor cut over here,” recalled Daly, pointing above his right eyebrow.
“I asked him if there was anyone else on the plane with him. He said ‘no,’ so I got him on board and brought him to the shore and Ocean Rescue took over right away.”
Witness Mashelyn Carrera captured the duo returning safely to shore on her cell phone’s video camera, recording the round of applause received as the dazed pilot dismounted the PWC and walked ashore, hugging his savior in gratitude.
Commenting on the rescue, Daly told reporters that the pilot thanked him profusely, and that he was relieved for not injuring anyone when the plane went down. “I felt like a hero,” recounted Daly, “so I was happy he was OK, and he was conscious, and everybody’s happy.”
The pilot was indeed OK, after receiving care for minor injuries at Mount Sinai Medical Center. The downed Cessna L19-305 banner tow craft, loaded with fuel at the time of the crash, was later recovered from the bottom of the Atlantic in three large pieces and hauled away for examination by the FAA.