A pilot is lucky to be alive today after his small plane crashed in South Cooking Lake southeast of Sherwood Park.
The Cessna 180 clipped the water with its wing, which caused the plane to flip and crash.
The 76-year-old pilot escaped the wreck with minor injuries.
Crews weren’t able to get to him right away, it took around five-and-a-half hours.
Strathcona County Deputy Fire Chief Vern Elliot blames mud and the fact that the plane landed in the middle of the lake for their long response time.
“The issue that we had was actually getting to him,” explains Elliot. “The lake was very shallow, so getting any sort of craft to him was problematic. We do have an air boat that we use for these types of issues. Even with that we were having issues getting to him.”
He says they were also dealing with mud, which slowed down progress.
During that time a man in a canoe reached the victim, gave him water and offered to rescue him.
But, Elliot says they discourage good Samaritans from doing that.
“The one thing that we ask the public is that, as more help comes in to assist, it kind of makes the incident more complex,” says Elliot. “Now we have other people that haven’t gone through the same safety training that we have, that we’re aware of. And now all of a sudden we may have rescuer that becomes another victim.”
Crews then told the man in the canoe to leave, and they could then handle it.
Elliot doesn’t regret that decision.
“The decision was made for the safety of everybody,” says Elliot. “If the canoe was to tip over, and we’d like to think he was a good operator, but just in case we didn’t want to get in that situation. It was a call that was made on the scene, it was the appropriate call, and I’ll stand by my guys making that decision.” (km/bg/twd)