AUSTIN (KXAN) — A young man who helped pull a Texas Parks and Wildlife pilot from Lady Bird Lake Thursday after a plane crash said he wasn’t expecting the pilot to be alive when he rushed into the water.
“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 and everything so, it wasn’t much thinking except just getting him to the shore to medical services,” Nicholas Compton told KXAN.
Compton said he heard the crash and assumed something had happened on I-35, the highway just east of the crash scene, but then a nearby paddleboarder yelled out that a plane had crashed into Lady Bird Lake. At that point, Compton said he rushed out into the river with a life jacket looking for the pilot.
When Compton found him, he said the pilot was out of breath and in shock. He said it took about five minutes for him to get the pilot to shore and that during that time his focus was just getting him to medical services.
“He was very out of it,” Compton said. “Not much dialogue happened.”
Several KXAN viewers emailed their photos of the incident, including Kurt Thomas who watched the entire thing unfold from his balcony.
“I was like wait a minute that plane is really, really low and it is about to hit the bridge. It went up, barely hit the bridge and then on the other side of the bridge it plummeted into the water,” Thomas said.
Meanwhile, Steven Carbon was running around Lady Bird Lake when he says he saw the plane just above his head.
“There were kids riding their bikes right past me saying, ‘wow that was so close’…there’s a chance this plane dove into the water and that’s when I tried to get there as fast as possible,” Carbon said.
The Texas Department of Wildlife said the pilot’s name is Lt. Dwayne Havis. He’s a game warden pilot with the state.
A TPWD spokesperson said the plane “had just come out of routine maintenance and the pilot was on a test flight when they reported mechanical issues which forced them to land the plane in Lady Bird Lake.”
The plane was a 2009 Cessna T206 and took off from the Texas Department of Transportation terminal at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, according to officials.
The pilot, a man, survived but Austin-Travis County EMS and other officials said he was taken to the hospital with potentially serious injuries after the crash.
The Federal Aviation Administration said it would release information regarding the crash on its incident reporting website as early as Friday. The National Transportation Safety Board is in charge of the investigation, the FAA said.
The plane was removed from the lake Thursday night and crews are securing the crash site “to reduce any environmental impacts.”
You can read the latest on the crash here.