Marine Unit Rescues Pilot After Watery Crash in Florida

by Matthew Memrick

A Tampa Marine Unit rescued a pilot from a small Florida plane crash this past week and it was the classic case of being in the right place at the right time.

Breaking911 reported that Air and Marine Operations’ Tampa Marine Unit was going through joint operations off Cedar Key last Tuesday afternoon. The unit spotted the plane just a half a mile from the George T. Lewis Airport.

The plane had departed from a nearby runway. News reports did not identify the pilot or the make of the small aircraft. 

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the plane crash.

Marines Get Man Seen Standing On His Plane

As agents and deputies approached the plane, they saw the pilot climb on top of his plane and stand on the fuselage.

They confirmed the pilot was the plane’s only occupant, taking him to an AMO Coastal Interceptor Vessel. After running a quick medical check of the man, local emergency medical services went through a deeper evaluation.

“The situational awareness and quick actions of the Marine Interdiction Agents and Sheriff’s Deputies prevented a possible human tragedy,” said Michael Matthies, Deputy Director of Marine Operations. “We are thankful we have the proper resources and trained personnel to perform when incidents like this present themselves.”

There are no numbers on how many agents and personnel helped the man. The unit conducts airborne and maritime law enforcement. According to Border Patrol officials, the group works to safeguard the United States by “anticipating and confronting security threats.”

According to WTSP, about 1,800 federal agents and mission support personnel work in AMO roles throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. They operate 240 aircraft and 300 boats.

Between 1985 and 2018, the website Plane Crash Map has recorded 16 crashes in the Cedar Key area.

2017 Florida Crash Took Lives In Same Area

Three people died in the same area when a single-engine plane went down on Feb. 12, 2017.

This time, the Levy County Sherrif’s Officials spotted the plane six miles near Cedar Key. 

The pilot, Jasper Jerrels, passengers Hue Singletary and Dylan Jerrels died at the scene. While search crews found Jasper Jerrels and Hue Singletary, they did not find a third victim, Dylan Jerrels, until Mar. 1, 2017.

The Alachua County Sheriff’s Office dive team went to the coordinates where the main fuselage of the located aircraft. The plane sat on the ocean floor at a depth of 10 to 12 feet.

There, Florida Sonar Search Team owner Dan Griffith pointed ACSO dive team members to personal items and bone fragments that belonged to Dyland Jerrels.

For sheriff Bobby McCallum, the search was a personal tragedy as he knew Dylan Jerrels. He had told the Jerrels family he would keep up the search until officials found remains. 

“I know this family personally and can understand the pain this family has to endure. I will continue this search until we can offer closure to Dylan’s family,” McCallum said.

“It’s definitely the plane. I’ve ridden in it,” Teresa Cooper, Jerrels’ niece, told WUFT as officials brought wreckage into the Cedar Key Marina. “It’s a whole tragedy that we’ve lost three people.”

When officials discovered the plane, they learned the impact tore off its entire side and roof. As part of the investigation, officials took the plane to Jacksonville.