Border Patrol rescues pilot from plane crash off Florida coast

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Border Patrol rescues pilot from plane crash off Florida coast

A Customs and Border Patrol special marine unit helped local law enforcement rescue a man who had crashed his airplane off the coast of Florida while the agencies were conducting a joint operation.

The CBP Air and Marine Operations Tampa Marine Unit were in the middle of a joint operation with Citrus County Sheriff’s Office Tactical Impact Unit when they spotted an aircraft floating in the water about half a mile from the George T. Lewis Airport in Cedar Key.

A man emerged from the wreckage and climbed on top of the aircraft’s fuselage as officers approached. The man was identified as the pilot and sole occupant of the plane.

Photos released show the pilot fully dressed in a blue shirt and jeans standing atop the plane appearing wet but not severely injured. AMO agents conducted a medical assessment of the pilot and requested assistance. Local EMS services arrived on scene to help.

“The situational awareness and quick actions of the Marine Interdiction Agents and Sheriff’s Deputies prevented a possible human tragedy,” Michael Matthies, Deputy Director of Marine Operations said in a statement.

AMO Marine Unit rescues man from sinking aircraft off Florida coast
Photos released show the pilot fully dressed standing atop the plane.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection

“We are thankful we have the proper resources and trained personnel to perform when incidents like this present themselves.” 

Citrus County Sheriff Mike Predergast said in a statement that saving someone’s life is law enforcement’s greatest reward. 

“Thanks to extensive training and keen instincts the AMO agents and our deputies knew exactly how to respond to this situation and facilitated the swift rescue of this individual,” he wrote.

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