Thursday, April 26, 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
Long wait at Wingstop ends in brawl, hot oil and 2nd degree burns

Long wait at Wingstop ends in brawl, hot oil and 2nd degree burns

TAMPA — A customer visited Wingstop on Sunday night to pick-up his order. What happened next was off-menu:Robert Williams said he suffered second-degree burns on his back and legs after a Wingstop employee threw hot oil on him during a scuffle.Willia...
Updated: 7 hours ago
FHP identifies driver in crash that killed

FHP identifies driver in crash that killed "smiling" teen

TRINITY — Friends said what they’ll remember the most about Lillia Morris is that she was always smiling.The 17-year-old Mitchell High School junior was killed Tuesday when a sport-utility vehicle ran a red light on State Road 54 and slammed into the...
Updated: 8 hours ago
For senior week, Lakewood High School must mourn a senior

For senior week, Lakewood High School must mourn a senior

ST. PETERSBURG — Lakewood High School principal Erin Savage has never planned a candlelight vigil. But this week, Savage must learn how to do so as her school mourns the tragic death of one of its graduating seniors.Bryson Welton-Williams, 18, died T...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Pasco corporal who took down student on video now cleared (w/video)

Pasco corporal who took down student on video now cleared (w/video)

LAND O’LAKES — Kayla Peña filled up her water bottle then returned to her lunch table at Sunlake High School when she heard a commotion in the cafeteria on Tuesday afternoon.A female student was riled up, walking back and forth, Peña said, screaming ...
Updated: 10 hours ago

Man on Clearwater Beach pulled from water, hospitalized

CLEARWATER — A 33-year-old man pulled from the water north of Pier 60 was hospitalized Wednesday afternoon.Clearwater Fire & Rescue spokesman Rob Shaw said a bystander noticed the Dunedin man, who has not been identified, was in trouble and brought h...
Published: 04/25/18
State Road 54 closed after state trooper injured in crash

State Road 54 closed after state trooper injured in crash

WESLEY CHAPEL — A motorist suffered a medical emergency and crashed into six cars at a Wesley Chapel traffic light Wednesday, injuring a trooper, the Florida Highway Patrol said.The trooper, whose injuries were not life threatening, was airlifted to ...
Published: 04/25/18
Orlando armed carjacking suspect on the run in Hillsborough, authorities say

Orlando armed carjacking suspect on the run in Hillsborough, authorities say

PLANT CITY — Multiple law enforcement agencies are searching for an armed man responsible for a string of Wednesday morning carjackings, including one that involved gunfire, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.Authorities described ...
Published: 04/25/18
Trinity teen killed in crash remembered as ‘positive’ and ‘smiling’

Trinity teen killed in crash remembered as ‘positive’ and ‘smiling’

TRINITY — Friends said they will remember Lillia Morris, who was killed Tuesday in a car crash, as always smiling.Morris, 17, was killed after a 2008 Chevrolet SUV ran a red light and slammed into her car at State Road 54 and Duck Slough Boulevard.Ka...
Published: 04/25/18
Man, teen face murder charges in Clearwater shooting

Man, teen face murder charges in Clearwater shooting

CLEARWATER — A man and teen face first-degree murder charges in connection with an apparent drug-related fatal shooting last week.Police say Daniel Curtis Battle, 28, and Malique Devon Gary, 17, shot Ricardo Guzman four times on Friday at Melrose on ...
Published: 04/25/18
UCF student from Hillsborough, one other accused of rape; fraternity suspended

UCF student from Hillsborough, one other accused of rape; fraternity suspended

ORLANDO — A University of Central Florida student from Hillsborough County and a fellow fraternity member face charges after they were accused of raping a woman at a party.That fraternity has since been placed on interim suspension.Orange County Sher...
Published: 04/25/18