Huntington Beach

Junior Lifeguards Help Rescue Pilot After Small Plane Crash in Huntington Beach

Video from the beach showed people running into the water to help after the crash off the Orange County coast.

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Two junior lifeguards were among the first people in the water to help a pilot of a small plane that crashed in the Huntington Beach surf on Friday.

Huntington Beach city junior lifeguards Jake Shaffer and Aidan said they were walking on the beach when the crash happened and jumped right in to help.

"Jake goes, 'OK, run!' So I start running towards the water line where the plane is and he grabs a board," Aidan said.

Shaffer grabbed a board and immediately rushed into the water. The plane was towing a banner promoting a tequila brand that beachgoers could be seen pulling out of the water after the crash.

The FAA says the pilot was the only person onboard and was rushed to the hospital. Shaffer described him as a young man wearing a flannel shirt who is lucky to be alive.

"When he got on my board, he had a small cut on his head," Shaffer said. "I kept asking him, 'hello, sir? Are you OK?'

"We were just going over these things in captain's about trying to learn information about the person. What could have happened. He didn't want to talk. He was sitting there frozen on the board."


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Shaffer and Aidan said other lifeguards arrived soon after to pull the pilot out of the water. Nearly 600 junior lifeguards were at the beach taking part in a two-day competition.

"It's crazy," Aidan said.

Shaffer said he's happy they were in the right place at the right time.

There was no word on the condition of the pilot or his name.

The plane appears to have been based at the Compton Airport and flew north to Malibu before making a U-turn and coming south to Huntington Beach.

FAA investigators were trying to find out what caused the plane to go down.

Witnesses say the single engine Piper Cub didn't make loud noises as it slowly descended from the air almost gliding into the water at the shoreline.

Inside, the pilot was able to get himself out of the plane. His injuries were said to be minor but he was taken to a hospital to be treated.

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