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Pilot Survives Plane Crash Off Miami Beach

MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami) – A plane towing an ad banner went down Saturday afternoon into the ocean off Miami Beach.

According to the FAA, the plane lost power about 2:30 p.m. and the pilot landed in the ocean.

Authorities said the Cessna plane went down in the water off of 4778 Collins about 200 yards from the beach.

"The banner behind it came off first, then we thought it was going to try to come back to catch the banner and then just went into the water," said witness Dalan Telles.

Watch Maggie Newland's report, click here.

Talles added the plane didn't plunge or nose dive, but seemed to descend slowly and silently.

"Slowly, but the noise was very strong when it hit the water that's when everybody noticed," he said.

Carolyn Kent heard the plane hit the water.  "It sounded like thunder," she said.

"It was just kind of a loud noise, but it was more like the people screaming that got my attention," said witness Daniel Perdomo.

Almost immediately, witnesses said several people on personal watercraft raced to the pilot's rescue.

"It really happened quickly, within seconds, these guys about four or five in Jet Skis were able to take him from the water, he seemed like he was conscious, he was holding onto the guy driving the Jet Ski so it seemed to me like he was ok," Perdomo added about the rescue.

"I got on a Jet Ski and went out there the pilot was already out of the plane, he had a floating device on," said George Daly.  "I asked him if there was anybody else on the plane, he said no."

Daly brought the pilot to shore as the crowd on the beach applauded

Cell phone video of the aftermath could be seen and witnesses heard saying: "The pilot of the plane sir are you ok?"

"Yes," the pilot replied.

Daly said the pilot told him his name was Brian and talked to him about what happened.

"I was trying to keep conversation with him to make sure he was conscious the whole time.  I asked him a couple of questions, what went wrong with the plane, if it was a gas issue or technical issue?  He told me he had plenty of gas, but the engine just totally died on him, so immediately as soon as that happened he dropped the banner he had on the back and he just did the best he could to land the plane."

He said the pilot had only a small cut on his head and was very grateful for those who rushed to his rescue.

"He just couldn't stop thanking me," said Daly.

Witnesses said the pilot was put into an ambulance, but police said there were no major injuries.

"Had it not been for those Jet Ski guys who knows if this guy had a small injury or something; it probably would have been hard for him to swim to shore," Perdomo said.

People on the beach said they're also thankful no one was in the water in the area where the plane went down.

"It's kind of disturbing because people are always here and this time of year the shores kind of low and you tend to swim a little bit farther out, it's scary," said Perdomo.

"Fortunately, it was a cloudy day and no one's really here," added Kent.

The plane is registered to Aerial Banners Inc. in Pembroke Pines.  Someone who answered the phone at the company told CBS4's Maggie Newland that the pilot had been released from the hospital and was doing fine, but shaken up.

Heavy equipment was brought in to remove the plane piece-by-piece.  It was tied onto a truck and taken away.


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