Thursday, April 08, 2010

2 Rescued - Lake Okeechobee Seaplane Crash

FWC rescues survivors of seaplane crash on Lake Okeechobee

MOORE HAVEN, FL. -- Simply by being in the right place at the right time, law enforcement officers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission were the first to respond to a seaplane crash Wednesday afternoon on Lake Okeechobee, near Observation Island.

The plane departed from Lantana Airport earlier in the day but soon went off radar. The Glades County Sheriff's Office contacted the FWC for assistance after receiving a report of a plane down. FWC officers quickly launched their boat and were able to pinpoint the plane�s location based on alerts coming from the EPIRB (emergency position-indicating radiobeacon).

The single-engine seaplane was almost entirely submerged when FWC officers arrived on the scene. The pilot, Thomas R. English, 57, of North Palm Beach, was sitting on the engine compartment. His passenger, Herman D. Bollrath Jr., 34, of West Palm Beach, was in the water and wearing a life vest. The two had been the plane's only occupants.

FWC officers rescued both men and transferred them to an awaiting Glades County Sheriff's Office boat. The pilot stated he was trying to land on the water when a wave hit and flipped the plane over. Neither man required medical treatment.

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