Off the coast of Cedar Key, Florida, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations unit and the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office Tactical Impact Unit were training together on November 9, 2021. While the joint-training operations were underway, agents located a single-engine aircraft semi-submerged just beneath the surface with its tail, propeller, and the very roof of the fuselage protruding from the water. As they approached as a single-occupant emerged from the aircraft and stood atop it. The training was over, the situation had just become serious and rescue operations were at hand. The small aircraft had come down about a half-mile from the George T. Lewis Airport.
From Training Operations To Rescue In Seconds
According to the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office, “A Tampa Marine Unit, alongside the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office Tactical Impact Unit, were conducting joint operations offshore Cedar Key, Florida when they spotted an aircraft floating in the water. As agents and deputies approached the sinking plane, an individual was spotted climbing out and standing on the fuselage. The pilot was the only occupant and was assisted onboard an AMO Coastal Interceptor Vessel.”
CBP Agents conducted an initial medical assessment of the pilot and contacted other authorities for further assistance according to a CBP Press release. Local Emergency Medical assistance then arrived on the scene and conducted a more thorough evaluation of the pilot than could be accomplished aboard the 41-foot long Secure Around Flotation Equipped or “SAFE” Boat.
“The situational awareness and quick actions of the Marine Interdiction Agents and Sheriff’s Deputies prevented a possible human tragedy,” said Michael Matthies, Deputy Director of Marine Operations. “We are thankful we have the proper resources and trained personnel to perform when incidents like this present themselves.”
Sheriff Mike Prendergast seemed similarly pleased with his both team’s performance.
“𝘛𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦 𝘪𝘴 𝘯𝘰 𝘨𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘵𝘦𝘳 𝘳𝘦𝘸𝘢𝘳𝘥 𝘪𝘯 𝘥𝘰𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘫𝘰𝘣𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘯 𝘣𝘦𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘢𝘣𝘭𝘦 𝘵𝘰 𝘩𝘦𝘭𝘱 𝘴𝘰𝘮𝘦𝘰𝘯𝘦, 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘤𝘢𝘴𝘦, 𝘴𝘢𝘷𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘴𝘰𝘮𝘦𝘰𝘯𝘦’𝘴 𝘭𝘪𝘧𝘦,” said Prendergast “𝘞𝘦 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘩𝘰𝘯𝘰𝘳𝘦𝘥 𝘵𝘰 𝘱𝘢𝘳𝘵𝘯𝘦𝘳 𝘶𝘱 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘈𝘪𝘳 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘔𝘢𝘳𝘪𝘯𝘦 𝘖𝘱𝘦𝘳𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯𝘴’ (𝘈𝘔𝘖) 𝘛𝘢𝘮𝘱𝘢 𝘔𝘢𝘳𝘪𝘯𝘦 𝘜𝘯𝘪𝘵 𝘵𝘰 𝘩𝘦𝘭𝘱 𝘳𝘪𝘥 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘍𝘭𝘰𝘳𝘪𝘥𝘢 𝘤𝘰𝘢𝘴𝘵 𝘰𝘧 𝘯𝘢𝘳𝘤𝘰𝘵𝘪𝘤𝘴. 𝘛𝘩𝘢𝘯𝘬𝘴 𝘵𝘰 𝘦𝘹𝘵𝘦𝘯𝘴𝘪𝘷𝘦 𝘵𝘳𝘢𝘪𝘯𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘬𝘦𝘦𝘯 𝘪𝘯𝘴𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘤𝘵𝘴, 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘈𝘔𝘖 𝘢𝘨𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘴 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘥𝘦𝘱𝘶𝘵𝘪𝘦𝘴 𝘬𝘯𝘦𝘸 𝘦𝘹𝘢𝘤𝘵𝘭𝘺 𝘩𝘰𝘸 𝘵𝘰 𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘱𝘰𝘯𝘥 𝘵𝘰 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘴𝘪𝘵𝘶𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘧𝘢𝘤𝘪𝘭𝘪𝘵𝘢𝘵𝘦𝘥 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘴𝘸𝘪𝘧𝘵 𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘤𝘶𝘦 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘪𝘯𝘥𝘪𝘷𝘪𝘥𝘶𝘢𝘭.”