Sunday, February 25, 2018
Public safety

Pilot safe after small plane crashes near Bayside Bridge

CLEARWATER — It was about 2 a.m. Friday when the engine quit on Anthony Marsh's Piper Cherokee airplane.

Marsh, 47, had left Pennsylvania about six hours earlier and was en route to Pinellas County. The engine stopped as he approached St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport.

The pilot of nine years went through the emergency steps, but nothing worked. He was at 1,000 feet and falling fast.

Marsh knew he would not make it to the airport. He looked for a place to land.

The Courtney Campbell Parkway and the Bayside Bridge were too crowded with night owl traffic.

Rather than risk hitting a car and hurting other people, Marsh decided to land in the water.

He splashed down near the Bayside Bridge. The plane landed hard.

Marsh nearly blacked out from the impact. But he willed himself to stay awake so he wouldn't drown. Frigid water rushed into the plane. The door was stuck. The plane started to sink.

Marsh took a deep breath as water rushed over his face. He was panicking. He still couldn't open the door. Everything was black.

He got his feet onto the windshield and kicked. He felt it give way. He wiggled out of the plane and swam, gulping water on the way up as his lungs burned. He broke the surface in what felt like his final moments.

Marsh swam to the tail, which was the only part of the plane still above water, and sat on it. Drivers on the Bayside stopped and shouted to him: Are you okay? He said he was.

Rescue crews reached him about a half-hour later and took him ashore. Then the entire plane sank to the bottom.

Marsh was taken to Mease Countryside Hospital and treated for injuries to his hand and head. He was later released. The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating.

Friday afternoon, Marsh stood on the Bayside Bridge and watched as a crew salvaged his plane. His right hand was stitched and bandaged from where the steering wheel cut into it on impact. His right eye was blackened. He squinted in the sun, crossed his arms and talked about what had happened.

"You don't have a lot of time," he said. "I had to make a decision."

On his call to land in the water instead of on a roadway, he said: "I'm already going to get hurt. I didn't want to be selfish."

Marsh, who described himself as self-employed, said he was flying to Florida so he could move to Clearwater. Now he fears his plane will be scrapped because of saltwater damage.

"I love that plane," he said. "I brought it here to have fun. Fun in the sun."

     
Comments
Hit-and-run driver in fatal accident sought by law enforcement

Hit-and-run driver in fatal accident sought by law enforcement

A hit-and-run crash has left a Tampa man dead, his female passenger in critical condition and law enforcement in search of the man who was driving the vehicle that struck them from behind.A Nissan Sentra was traveling north in the inside lane of U.S....
Updated: 1 hour ago
Troopers: Bradenton man dies after falling through hole in RV

Troopers: Bradenton man dies after falling through hole in RV

A Bradenton man died on Interstate 75 in Sumter County on Sunday after falling through a hole that opened in the cabin of a recreational vehicle when it collided with a guardrail, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.The man, whose name was not im...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Riverview woman dies in Friday car crash

A woman died Friday when her car collided with another vehicle on U.S. 301 in Riverview, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.Melanie Hoitt, 38, of Riverview was driving a Nissan Altima north on U.S. 301 approaching Southern Pointe Boulevard short...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Deputies: Plant City man stabbed to death during argument Saturday

Deputies: Plant City man stabbed to death during argument Saturday

PLANT CITY — A man died Saturday night after he was stabbed inside his home by a neighbor, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.Moses Wilson, 49, got into an argument with James Michael Meeks, 23, both of whom live at 4308 James L. R...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Caller told FBI Florida shooting suspect ‘going to explode’

Caller told FBI Florida shooting suspect ‘going to explode’

WASHINGTON — A woman close to the man charged with killing 17 people at a Florida high school warned the FBI in chilling detail that he had a growing collection of guns and a temper so uncontrollable she worried about him "getting into a school and j...
Updated: 5 hours ago
‘Filled with rage’: How a scrawny misfit turned into Florida’s worst school shooter

‘Filled with rage’: How a scrawny misfit turned into Florida’s worst school shooter

He was chronically depressed, beguiled by firearms and violence, an oddball ostracized by peers and prone to angry outbursts.He experienced, in rapid succession, blows of the sort that can send a disturbed, isolated young man hurtling into a spiral o...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Police: Man, 60, arrested for fleeing from fatal Largo pedestrian crash

Police: Man, 60, arrested for fleeing from fatal Largo pedestrian crash

LARGO — A 60-year-old man who police said was the driver in a fatal pedestrian hit-and-run on East Bay Drive from three days prior was arrested by Largo Police on Saturday, the department said.Victor Bonavita was arrested on three charges in relation...
Published: 02/24/18
Sheriff: Roads reopen after Tampa crash results in natural gas leak near Citrus Park Mall

Sheriff: Roads reopen after Tampa crash results in natural gas leak near Citrus Park Mall

TAMPA — Officials reopened roads near Citrus Park Mall Saturday evening that had been closed in the afternoon for a natural gas leak caused by a car crash, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said. The Sheriff’s Office and Hillsborough County Fi...
Published: 02/24/18
Police: Male motorcyclist crashed, then the driver was run over by two cars

Police: Male motorcyclist crashed, then the driver was run over by two cars

TAMPA — A male motorcyclist died early Saturday morning on the Courtney Campbell Causeway, the Tampa Police Department said.About 1:35 a.m., the victim rode his motorcycle west on the Courtney Campbell at high speeds, police said. The motorcycle stru...
Published: 02/24/18
Broward sheriff’s office launches internal investigations amid questions after Parkland massacre

Broward sheriff’s office launches internal investigations amid questions after Parkland massacre

The Broward County Sheriff’s Office said it is investigating allegations that multiple deputies failed to enter Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, after the shooting rampage there, adding to the mounting internal probes examin...
Published: 02/24/18