Paddleboarders have been credited with saving the life of a Texas game warden pilot who crashed a small pane into Lady Bird Lake in downtown Austin.
The unnamed pilot working for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department was conducting a test flight when his aircraft — a 2009 Cessna T-206 — splashed down in the lake near Interstate 35 at around 2 p.m. Thursday.
Officials said the pilot, who was flying alone, managed to climb out of the sinking plane on his own, but was then helped by paddleboarders who came to his rescue and brought him safely ashore.
A bystander, Nicholas Compton, told station KXAN that he helped another paddleboarder with the rescue.
“I was expecting to see something much worse than a man still alive floating so I was very relieved to see that he was still conscious,” Compton recounted.
According to the good Samaritan, the pilot was panting and appeared to be in shock. He said it took about five minutes to bring the injured man onto dry land.
The pilot was later taken to Dell Seton Medical Center with potentially serious injuries, according to paramedics who responded to the scene.
A spokesperson for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department said the pilot reported mechanical issues prior to the crash. The Cessna had just come out of routine maintenance.
The National Transportation Safety Board has launched an investigation into the incident.