By Josh Auzenne

ST. FRANCISVILLE, La. (WAFB) – Deputies with the West Feliciana Parish Sheriff’s Office rescued a helicopter pilot, who was clinging to a propane bottle in the Mississippi River, late Friday, August 20.

Sheriff Brian Spillman said his office received reports about a person floating in the river near the mouth of Bayou Sara near St. Francisville and responding deputies located him about 50 feet away from the bank.

He added members of the WFPSO Crisis Response Team and other deputies were able to get him to shore.

According to Spillman, the man told deputies he was alone on the flight that started in Lafayette in a Robinson R-44 helicopter before 4 a.m. and went down in the river about 45 minutes later.

“He is extremely lucky to have survived the crash and that he went down in an area that is near a public access point to the river,” said Spillman. “He was in the water over 12 hours. I don’t think he could have lasted much longer.”

Spillman added the man was taken to a Baton Rouge hospital to be treated for exposure and a possible diabetic condition.

The sheriff said the man’s name is being withheld until his family can be notified.