Kayakers Save Pilot from Icy Creek After Plane Crash in Maryland: 'Their Efforts Were Heroic'

Kayakers Save Pilot from Icy Creek After Plane Crash
Kayakers Save Pilot from Icy Creek After Plane Crash

Anne Arundel County Fire Department/Twitter

A pair of Maryland kayakers are credited with helping save a pilot who crashed into icy an creek after the Christmas holiday.

According to Maryland State Police, pilot Steve Couchman was flying a single-engine plane when he crashed into Beards Creek in Edgewater on Monday morning.

The department said Couchman's plane started to experience engine trouble soon after he took off from Lee Airport, and other witnesses said they heard sputtering from the plane as it flew overhead.

After 71-year-old Couchman crashed into the frigid and partially frozen waters, two civilians and an on-duty police officer from the Anne Arundel County Police Department jumped into action.

"[They] used three kayaks to skim across the iced creek to provide assistance to the pilot," Maryland police said in a statement.

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"While the plane was sinking, the pilot exited his plane and stood on the wing," they added. "Once the kayakers were close enough, the pilot was able to hang on to one of them to stay afloat."

Members of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources reached the scene a short time later, and traversed through the ice to retrieve Couchman from the boat, police said.

Couchman was the plane's sole occupant and was taken to Arundel Medical Center, where he was treated for non-life-threatening injuries sustained in the crash.

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The Anne Arundel County Fire Department shared an image of the icy creek on Twitter. The picture showed one of the plane's wheels sticking out of the water.

In a video posted by NBC affiliate WBAL, Anne Arundel County Fire Department Lt. Jennifer Macallair said the kayakers' actions helped save Couchman from developing hypothermia.

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"Their efforts were heroic today," she said.

"Hypothermia can set in within minutes," Macallair added. "So the fact that these two individuals were able to recognize what happened and got into their kayaks and went out there, absolutely probably saved his life."