‘I immediately sunk’: Coast Guard crew reflects on mission to rescue pilots

‘I immediately sunk’: Coast Guard crew reflects on mission to rescue pilots


SHE WAS WORRIED THERE WOULD BE NO ONE TO CARE FOR HIM AFTER HER DEATH.. IF THEY WOULD HAVE CONTINUED TO TRY TO CALL THROUGH THERE, THE POTENTIAL OF SINKING ALL THE WAY DOWN AND ESSENTIALLY DROWNING IN MUD, IT’S PRETTY HIGH. WE ARE LEARNING MORE TONIGHT ABOUT THE LIFE SAVING MISSION THAT LED TO YET ANOTHER LIFE SAVING MISSION IN POLK COUNTY. 8 ON YOUR SIDE STACI DASILVA JOINS US FROM THE COUNTY WITH THE LATEST ON TWO HELICOPTER RESCUES. REALLY AN UNBELIEVABLE CHAIN OF EVENTS OF WHAT TOOK PLACE HERE. Reporter: IT REALLY WAS. INVESTIGATORS ARE STILL TRYING TO PIECE TOGETHER WHAT CAUSED THOSE TWO HELICOPTERS TO CRASH IN FORT MEADE YESTERDAY. ONE OF THEM A POLK COUNTY SHERIFF OFFICE CHOPPER. TWO OF THE PILOTS ARE RECOVERING NOW ALL THANKS TO THE COAST GUARD. THE TERRAIN WAS BAD, EVEN FOR THE PROFESSIONALS. WE GOT A HAND SIGNAL THAT THIS IS UP AND USUALLY ONCE YOU TOUCH DOWN, THAT’S NOT THE FIRST THING YOU DO. I IMMEDIATELY SIGNALED TO MY CHEST AND GAVE THE UP SIGNAL RIGHT AWAY. Reporter: HE DESCRIBED WHAT IT WAS LIKE MOMENTS BEFORE THE HEROIC RESCUE. THEY WERE DISPATCHED IN CLEARWATER THURSDAY AFTER A FIRST RESCUE ATTEMPT WENT AWRY. FOR WHATEVER REASON, AFTER THE FIRST CHOPPER WENT DOWN, OUR CHOPPER GOES DOWN. Reporter: THE FAA IS INVESTIGATING HOW THAT POSSIBLY COULD HAVE HAPPENED. A GYROCOPTER FLOWN BY JEFF WRIGHT OF LUTZ TAKES A HARD LANDING ON MOSAIC PROPERTY NEAR FORT MEADE. THEN THE POLK COUNTY SHERIFF OFFICE TOO FALLS FROM THE SKY. LONGTIME SHERIFF OFFICE PILOT LEVON HUGHES WAS AT THE HELM. THEY WERE IN HIGH SPIRITS, JOKING AROUND. THEY WERE IN A MUCH BETTER MOODTHAN I WOULD BE IF I GOT INTO A COUPLE OF HELICOPTER CRASHES. Reporter: RATHER THAN RISK SINKING IT. IT WAS VERY MUDDY, MARSHY ALMOST TO THE POINT OF BEING QUICK SAND. Reporter: THE COAST GUARD CREW PULLED THE PILOTS UP TO SAFETY AND BOTH WERE THROWN TO TAMPA GENERAL HOSPITAL. WE’RE TOLD JEFF WRIGHT, THE GYROCOPTER PILOT IS STILL THERE AT TAMPA GENERAL HOSPITAL TONIGHT. LEVON HUGHES WAS TREATED AND RELEASED YESTERDAY. WHAT ABOUT THOSE CHOPPERS, STACI? ARE THEY STILL STUCK IN THE MUCK? Reporter: THEY SURE ARE, KEITH. THEY ARE STUCK THERE QUITE GOOD. IT WILL BE QUITE A CHALLENGE TO PULL THEM OUT OF THAT QUICK SAND. AS WE SAW IN THE EAGLE 8HD VIDEO, THE HELICOPTER IS SINKING FAST. IT WILL BE QUITE A CHALLENGE. WE’LL BE THERE TO COVER THAT I’M SURE.

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