(SAN FRANCISCO) — Two people are lucky to be alive after their plane lost power and went down in Half Moon Bay off the coast of California on Tuesday – and they caught the entire dramatic ordeal on tape.
David Lesh, 34, and his friend Kayla were visiting San Francisco from Denver to do an air-to-air photo shoot of Lesh’s new Beechcraft Bonanza aircraft he had purchased only a few weeks ago, according to San Francisco’s ABC television station, KGO-TV.
“We were going to go fly over the Golden Gate Bridge and do a whole Bay tour,” Lesh told KGO-TV. “Obviously didn’t make it there.”
In the other aircraft flying close to Lesh was Owen Leipelt and a passenger who was tasked with taking pictures of Lesh’s plane.
As they were flying over Half Moon Bay, Lesh’s plane lost all power and he was unable to get the engine back up and running, he said. The plane began suddenly descending.
“I would guess that we probably didn’t have much more than maybe a minute or two from the time I figured something was wrong to the time we hit the water,” Lesh added.
Dramatic video taken from Leipelt’s plane shows the moment of impact as Lesh’s plane hit and skidded across the water about 9 miles south of Pillar Point Harbor.
“It skipped along the water a few times. There was like no impact. We were totally fine,” Lesh told KGO-TV. “Got the door open right away, we piled out. I grabbed my phone, grabbed some stuff to float with and we stood on the wing as long as the plane was floating which was probably 30 seconds or 40 seconds.”
Leipelt, who was piloting the other plane, said he lost them at one point.
“I had been circling and I couldn’t see them anymore, and David called me on the phone as he was bobbing in the water,” Leipelt said. “He turned me around and he guided me right to where he was.”
Leipelt immediately contacted air traffic control, which then relayed information to Coast Guard Sector San Francisco Command Center, as he continued circling the location of the plane crash to make it easy for authorities to find the crash victims.
“Coast Guard watchstanders dispatched crews aboard a Coast Guard Air Station San Francisco MH-65 Dolphin helicopter, diverted a Coast Guard Air Station Sacramento C-27 Spartan aircraft and the Coast Guard Cutter Hawksbill, an 87-foot patrol boat homeported in Monterey,” according to a press release issued from the United States Coast Guard.
Lesh recorded their ordeal in the water while they waited to be rescued by authorities.
“Alright, we are floating around now in the [expletive] Pacific Ocean,” said Lesh as his friend Kayla laughed in the background. “I’m holding onto my window shade as a floatation device.”
“I’m on the seat cushion,” said Kayla in the video.
According to the Coast Guard, the Dolphin helicopter crew arrived about 20 minutes after they crashed in the ocean. Lesh managed to record their arrival while bobbing in the water.
“The second pilot’s quick response to report the downed plane and remain on scene greatly aided the Coast Guard’s prompt response and ability to save two lives,” said Lt. Cmdr. Joshua Murphy, the Air Station San Francisco Dolphin helicopter pilot.
Lesh and his friend were then hoisted into the helicopter and were taken to Air Station San Francisco, where they were then seen by fire department personnel and released.
“For as terrible as it was, as it could’ve been, it really wasn’t bad,” PO1 Mikol Sullivan told KGO-TV. “It was really a miracle.”
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