By Jack Kase, Reporter and Jack Lowenstein, Writer
Iona-McGregor Fire District is leading the response to a small plane crash in the Caloosahatchee River south of Cape Coral Bridge Thursday night.
According to Iona-McGregor’s Facebook post, a flight instructor and a student had a mid-air issue, and they pulled the plane’s parachute and landed safely in the water. There were no injuries.
The fire district said Crash Fire Rescue (CFR) was on its way to begin investigating. Iona’s Battalion 70, Engine 75 and Marine 70 all responded to the call.
“Me and my little cousin were out looking at the fish. There were dolphins earlier,” Michael explained. “And all of the sudden, we see this plane just coming by, and it starts wiggling.”
It ended with witnesses hearing a loud sound.
“Like when they pop a bottle on a cork or something on a champagne bottle,” Carl Miller said. “But a deeper, really loud sound.”
That’s what witnesses heard before seeing a small airplane go nearly straight down.
“We just hear like a boom,” Hinson said. “It was crazy. It was like shocked our head.”
Witnesses believe the loud sound they heard was the plane’s parachute deploying.
“At first, I thought it might have been a hobbyist thing,” Miller said. “And then, I thought in my head immediately after, ‘No, that was too big for anything like that, way too big.’”
“It’s not something I want to see, obviously, because I don’t want to see anybody hurt,” Hinson said. “I mean, I went to go look at dolphins, and I saw a plane.”
Other witnesses told us they saw people in a pontoon boat drive out to the plane and rescue the people on board.
“I walk over and I see a guy, and I said, ‘Hey, do they know if everybody’s all right?’” Hinson said. “And he looks at me and smiles and he’s like, ‘Yep, we are.’”
According to FlightAware, the plane took off from Greenville, South Carolina Thursday afternoon just after 4 p.m. The website also says the plane was in the air for about three and a half hours and was supposed to land at Page Field in Lee County.