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Video: Rescuers save pilot who crashed in alligator-infested swamp

Charlie, the Joint Base Charleston - Weapons Station twelve foot one inch 600-pound alligator, June 24, 2013. (US Air Force/Released)
November 03, 2023

A Florida pilot was rescued from an alligator-ingested swamp in the Everglades Tuesday by a Miami-Dade Fire Rescue team over six hours after his small airplane crashed into the swamp.

According to a Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Facebook post, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue responded at 10:20 a.m. on Tuesday to assist Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue after a small airplane crashed near Mack’s Fish Camp in southwest Broward.

“Due to the remote location of the incident and difficult terrain, MDFR’s Air Rescue North arrived on scene to conduct a hoist operation in order to rescue the patient from the downed aircraft and provide medical care,” Miami-Dade Fire Rescue stated. “One adult patient was safely removed from the aircraft and then airlifted to a local-area hospital in Broward County.”

According to The New York Post, the Florida pilot was able to cling to the wreckage of the airplane for over six hours before the rescue team was able to remove him from the danger of the alligator-infested swamp.

A video posted on YouTube shows the moment the rescue team was able to remove the unidentified pilot from the swamp.

According to the New York Post, roughly one hour after the pilot departed from Lake Okeechobee, the Cessna Skyhawk crash-landed near Miami Lakes in the Everglades at approximately 4 a.m.

The pilot’s airplane was from the Pilot Training Center, which eventually contacted the authorities when the flight was not completed on schedule. Broward Sheriff’s Office fire chief Michael Kane told CBS Miami that the pilot most likely was not able to call for help since the airplane’s communications were submerged in the swamp.

Explaining why the rescue team decided to use a helicopter to rescue the pilot, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Captain Andy Borges told NBC 6 South Florida, “The area that he was in was hard to access by airboats.”

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When the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue team arrived at the crash site, they found the pilot standing on the wings of the partially submerged airplane. The pilot had no shirt on, as he had turned his shirt into a makeshift tourniquet for a leg injury.

After locating the pilot, a member of the rescue team was lowered from the helicopter in order to hoist the pilot up to safety.

Describing the nature of the rescue, Borges said, “He was out there since four in the morning, so it’s alligators and mosquitos and everything else that is out there. A little dehydrated. So, very happy to see us.”

Kane also discussed the department’s amazement at the pilot’s survival, saying, “To be able to seemingly walk away with just a leg injury after putting an aircraft down in the Everglades with the thick brush is an amazing feat in itself. We’re very grateful that he’s okay.”

After the rescue, the unidentified pilot was transported to a hospital; however, the New York Post reported that he had only minor injuries.