Two Jersey Shore lifeguards are receiving praise from locals and the internet after a spectacular rescue of a pilot who had to ditch his plane in the Atlantic Ocean on June 27. Scott Meggitt, 21, and Charlie Osborne, 20, swam out to assist pilot Cory Morris, whose banner plane had lost power.
“It was definitely one for the books,” Meggitt told NJ.com. “I’ve never seen anything like that.” When the lifeguards, who were at different stations along the Surf City beach, saw the banner come down first and then the plane, they rushed into action.
“It’s the craziest feeling,” Osborne told The Sandpaper. “It’s like you have tunnel vision. You just do what you’ve been trained to do.”
When the pilot, Morris, realized his plane was going down, he made a mayday call and took the small Cessna 150 away from shore and the crowds on the beach to ditch in the water. “The controlled landing was impressive,” lifeguard Osborne said. “I was prepared for him to be on the bottom of the ocean with the plane. I thought I would have to dive for him.”
As for his colleague, Meggitt, without having heard anything about the mayday call, he knew that time was of the essence. “I saw the banner drop,” he recounted. “And I started to get undressed. I was layered up.” The afternoon had been cool, and both lifeguards were wearing sweats to keep themselves warm.
Both got into the water right away when they saw the crash landing. “It took under 20 seconds for [the plane] to sink,” Osborne explained. “I spotted the pilot and headed for him. He was treading water and had hit his face pretty good.”
Though the lifeguards had been trained for plane crashes as well as boat fires near the beach, they weren’t entirely sure what to expect. “It happened so quick,” said Meggitt. “It was very surprising. There was no sign of any plane, it was just the victim treading water.”
Both of the lifeguards, who are college students studying in New York and Virginia, are also part of the local lifeguards’ racing team. “The tension and adrenaline were building,” Meggitt added. “When we got out there and there was only one victim and he had just minor injuries, that was a big relief.”
Morris had not only landed safely but managed to get himself out of the plane just before it sank. When the lifeguards arrived, they were able to confirm he was all right and help him get back to shore, where an ambulance was waiting to take him into the hospital.
Osborne and Meggitt both reflected on how differently the situation could have turned out if the pilot hadn’t been able to make such an expert landing. “Luckily there was no one else in the plane and he was able to able to rescue himself,” Meggitt told NJ.com. “It could have gone really south if he didn’t get out.”
According to The Press of Atlantic City, the lifeguards had plenty of backup from other first responders, including local fire departments, paramedics, the New Jersey Marine Police Division, and even the U.S. Coast Guard. The FAA is investigating the cause of the crash as well.
For Osborne, this wasn’t the first save he had witnessed or made, having been a lifeguard for several seasons. It was definitely the most spectacular, though, as he told The Sandpaper: “You see some crazy stuff, but this is the craziest I’ve ever seen.”
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