WATCH: Coast Guard video shows dramatic rescue of pilots after cargo plane crash
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - US Coast Guard video shows the dramatic rescue of two pilots whose Boeing 737-200 cargo plane crashed about two miles off West Oahu early Friday.
When a Coast Guard helicopter crew arrived at the scene of the crash, one of the cargo plane’s pilots was on the tip of the downed craft’s tail while the other was bobbing in the water on a cargo load.
There was also a large oil slick in the area and lots of debris.
“We first saw a man waving his hands from the tail of the airplane,” said Coast Guard Lt. Gleb Borovok. “Another man was floating on a bed of cargo.”
Borovok said the crew planned to first rescue the pilot in the water.
But in a matter of seconds, the tail disappeared and the man who had been there was in the water vigorously swimming and appearing to have trouble.
The team decided to deploy a rescue swimmer to the pilot treading water first.
“We train in the dark just for stuff like this, so I think we were prepared for it, and thankfully it went well,” said Coast Guard rescue swimmer Nesward Marfil.
“Going out there, and actually being able to locate someone, and put them out of their dangerous situation and bring them to safety, it’s very gratifying.”
Lt. Alex Mead, who flew the rescue helicopter, said conditions in the area were difficult. It was extremely dark, even with night vision goggles on, and rescuers were dealing with winds to about 17 mph.
One of the pilots, who was critically injured, was airlifted to a hospital.
The second was taken by boat to shore, and transported to a hospital in serious condition.
Mead said the critically injured pilot was so exhausted by the time he was pulled to safety that he could no longer talk. “He definitely hit the point of exhaustion, where a few seconds more and we’re not entirely sure where he may have been,” he said.
The Coast Guard got the call about the downed craft about 1:40 a.m. The pilots were rescued roughly an hour after the crash ― and just minutes after the Coast Guard helicopter deployed.
Coast Guard Petty Officer Matthew West said all hands were on deck when the crash happened. Multiple agencies deployed, including state and county firefighters and EMS.
“We do train for every situation,” West said. “We’re always prepared.”
This story will be updated.
Copyright 2021 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.