‘I’m glad we were there’: Good Samaritans jump into action after Florida Keys plane crash

MONROE COUNTY, Fla. – Two Good Samaritans are recounting their efforts to help a pilot who crashed in the Lower Florida Keys earlier this month.

Ivar Bolander and Dom Bozzetti said they were boating in a little-traveled area near Horseshoe Key, north of Bahia Honda State Park, when they saw a small plane plunge into the water.

According to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, the crash happened around 1:30 p.m. on March 11. The pilot was leaving the airport in Marathon, headed to Summerland Key when the crash happened.

“I think the initial thought was, with the size of the impact and seeing him hanging out of the plane, is he alive?” Bolander said.

“We saw the impact and immediately we just took off for him,” Bozzetti said.

The pair said they worked to stay calm so they could assist the pilot, who appeared to be injured and bleeding — but conscious.

“We pulled up and the pilot was still facing us, still in his seatbelt, dazed,” Bolander said. “We just pulled him out of the plane slowly, and then we put a life jacket under him to float him.”

They called 911 and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. An FWC officer eventually arrived and took the pilot to land, where he was airlifted to Jackson South Medical Center.

The two friends said they acted on instinct and were relieved to be able to help save a life.

“You go into another zone, where you say, ‘OK, I’m going to take care of this person,’” Bolander said.

“I’m glad we were there,” Bozzetti added. “I’m glad we were there.”

The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash.

About the Author:

Janine Stanwood joined Local 10 News in February 2004 as an assignment editor. She is now a general assignment reporter. Before moving to South Florida from her Washington home, Janine was the senior legislative correspondent for a United States senator on Capitol Hill.