Rafters save pilot who crashed into Colorado River near Utah border

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WESTWATER, Utah (KKCO/KJCT) -- A pilot was taken to the hospital Tuesday after crashing his plane into the Colorado River near Westwater. Some rafters came to his aid.

Picture: Mesa County Sheriff's Office

The pilot was 59-years-old, according to the Mesa County Sheriff's Office. He was conscious and breathing when he was transported to the hospital Tuesday afternoon.

"We saw a plane fly low over the river and about 15, 20 minutes later we saw it crumpled up in a heap at the edge of the river," said Max Meneley, who was rafting. "He did have a personal beacon so and we had about 30 minutes of cell service and told the paramedics where we were going and pretty much just rowed as hard as we could."

It's not clear yet what caused the plane to crash.

"We appreciate the help of the passerbys to take it upon themselves to help this individual," said sheriff's office spokesperson Megan Terlecky. "I think that may have made a difference for him."

And through it all, the pilot and rafters even got to know each other a bit.

"I have some of his contact information so I'm going to get a hold of him and send him a picture of his plane, Meneley said. "I'm just super glad he's okay," Meneley said.

Initial calls came in around 1:00 p.m. Tuesday. Rescue operations were set up at the Westwater Boat Ramp. The pilot was conscious and breathing when he was brought there and airlifted to the hospital with some injuries, according to the sheriff's office.

The plane is believed to be a Kitfox aircraft and is reportedly partially submerged in the river, according to the sheriff's office. Deputies took a boat upriver and helped secure the aircraft at the crash site.

The Mesa County Sheriff's Office has notified the FAA and NTSB.

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