Yacht rescues 3 after plane plunges into ocean

'Free Spirit' owner glad to be in right place at right time

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – A small plane plunged into the Atlantic Ocean on Friday morning after the pilot reported engine problems, but all three people on board were saved by a yacht that happened to be nearby at the time of the crash.

According to a statement from the Federal Aviation Administration, the pilot of the Cessna 206 reported engine problems shortly before going down in the water about 25 miles off the coast of South Florida.

The FAA said the plane took off from Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport and was traveling to Bimini, Bahamas.

Two women and a man on board the plane were rescued by a yacht called the "Free Spirit."

The pilot and passengers were taken to a marina in Fort Lauderdale, where they were met by investigators and paramedics.

"I expected to see, you know, at least some bruises and cuts," paramedic Eli Melcon told Local 10 News.

But there were no bruises or cuts.

"Thank God for life," one of the women told reporters as she left the marina and got into a waiting car.

The pilot didn't speak to reporters, but the boaters who happened to be returning from the Bahamas when they spotted the crash said they were grateful to be in the right place at the right time.

"If we left just a little bit earlier or a little bit later, we would not have seen it and we would not have been able to do what we did," yacht owner Sandra Rasmussen said.

The yacht got to the trio in about 10 minutes after Rasmussen and her family witnessed the crash.

"So then we ran up there, got out the binoculars and we were just watching the life raft," yacht passenger Carol Rasmussen said.

"I praise God we were there," Sandra Rasmussen said.

The FAA is investigating the crash.

About the Authors:

Peter Burke returned for a second stint of duty at Local 10 News in February 2014.

In January 2017, Hatzel Vela became the first local television journalist in the country to move to Cuba and cover the island from the inside. During his time living and working in Cuba, he covered some of the most significant stories in a post-Fidel Castro Cuba.