The pilot, a man from Antioch, Ill., apparently crashed into the lake about 4:30 p.m., swam to safety and got a ride home, Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth said during a news conference Monday night about 100 feet from the crash site.
Beth said when authorities interviewed the man, whose name was not released, he did not think the crash was such a “big deal” and that he would simply retrieve the aircraft the next day.
“Someone saw him and saw he was cold and said, ‘I’m going to give you a ride home,’ and that person didn’t contact anyone either,” Beth said.
Beth said the man apparently told the person who gave him a ride that he was fine and to let people know he wasn’t injured. The man told authorities he couldn’t use his cellphone, which was in the plane.
Fire and rescue units from Salem Lakes, Bristol and Somers responded to the scene along with the county dive team initially to see whether there was anyone in the partially submerged seaplane, Beth said.
Several hours later they were able to contact the man by phone after finding numbers on the plane that led them to the owner.
According to Beth, other than being cold and wet, the man said he was not injured.
The man told authorities the hull of the plane had disintegrated at the time of the crash, but that he had flown it in the area the day before, and it was fine then.
“Yesterday when he landed, everything worked perfectly,” Beth said. “For whatever reason today, the plane just broke apart.”
Authorities began clearing the scene about 8:30 p.m., and the wreckage will remain in the lake at least until today.
“The FAA has been notified. They’ll be coming very soon. Before it gets moved, they actually have to do the investigation at the site, “ Beth said, adding deputies would be in the area to ensure the scene isn’t tampered with overnight.
“As you can see, it’s not in a high-traffic area in the lake, and it should be just fine.”
According to Beth, a woman who was walking her dog in the neighborhood saw the wreckage and called authorities.
Other neighbors said they heard the plane’s engine cut out and then saw the propellers in the water.
Rick and Amee Janus said at first they didn’t think anything of it as they were headed out to their daughter’s basketball game, mostly because the lake usually has watercraft, such as duck boats and pontoons, operating in it.
“What stood out was that this was louder,” Rick said.
Jim Tryban, who also lives in the neighborhood, said he was hunting on his property when he heard a “loud, winding engine that eventually sputtered out for about 30 seconds.”
He then heard voices and saw a white vehicle pull up, either a Chevrolet Sonic or Ford Focus.
“I heard the lady ask the guy, ‘Are you OK?’” he said.
He said he heard the man then tell her: “I’m just a little wet.”