A man who ended up using a canoe to help out the pilot of a crashed Cessna, says he’s writing a letter to the County of Strathcona to see how it plans on improving its response time.
Jim Meyer, who is a pilot himself, tells 630 CHED News he got an ‘FYI’ call informing him that a small float plane had ended up upside-down in the shallow, muddy water of South Cooking Lake, southeast of Sherwood Park.
That was around 9:40 a.m. on Tuesday, and Meyer says when the rescue crew arrived he noticed they were having a hard time trying to decide where to launch their airboat, and when they did, it got stuck.
“About 12:30 (p.m.) I decided to go for a drive just to see where that airboat was because nobody had been out to him (the pilot) yet,” explained Meyer. “So he had been sitting out there a couple of hours already, so I went over and the boat was still stuck in the mud. So I proceeded to go home and grabbed my canoe. And, at 1 o’clock, I threw my canoe in the lake and I paddled out to the airplane. It took me about 40 minutes because it was very muddy.”
Meyer says he brought water for the 76-year-old pilot who was dehydrated, with a shoulder injury and one of his eyes swollen shut.
He says they then waited in the canoe for the airboat to eventually arrive, which was finally able to get the pilot to an ambulance at 2:15 p.m.
Meyer says a lot of people living in the area want to know why it took over four hours to get the pilot to an ambulance, when he was stranded in the middle of a shallow lake with the rescue crew stationed just a few kilometres away.
“The whole mood when they got us back to shore — the mood was not good amongst all the Strathcona firefighters. There was probably 30 of them there. It seems like there was a lot of disorganization and a lot of people didn’t know what to do. It was kind of entertaining to watch, but on the other hand I felt very sorry for the pilot of the airplane.”
In an earlier interview with 630 CHED News, Strathcona County Deputy Fire Chief Vern Elliot blamed the mud and the fact that the plane crashed in the middle of the lake for their long response time.
“The issue that we had was actually getting to him,” Elliot explained. “The lake was very shallow, so getting any sort of craft to him was problematic. We do have an airboat that we use for these types of issues. Even with that we were having issues getting to him.” (km/bg/twd/td)