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Family rescues aircraft pilot after crash landing in ice-covered water

Posted at 12:19 PM, Dec 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-27 16:58:51-05

ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY — John Gelinne and his family were looking out over Beards Creek in Edgewater, Maryland, when they saw a plane take a different route around Lee Airport.

The plane continued to bank hard, which caused it to crash in ice-covered water.

Gelinne looked at his son, John Jr., and said, "Let's go." So they took two kayaks and went on the water.

The ice was so thick the paddle was useless, so they retrieved a couple of shovels. John Sr. reached the plane first as the pilot stood in chest-deep water. Gelinne was in the Navy and knew the pilot had just minutes in that frozen water to live, so he steered the front of the kayak to him and shouted instructions.

"Get out of the water, just get out of the water and hold tight. I was just, I just pick-axed backward and got my kayak out of the ice, and he was out of the water," Gelinne said.

John Gelinne Jr., 37, said he was impressed with his father's efforts because he's in his 60s.

"I'm sore, so he's pretty sore as well," said John Gelinne Jr.

The Gelinnes believe the pilot saved many lives by flying off pattern, which prevented it from crashing into homes.

"He recognized he was in trouble, and he banked it hard left," they said. "He probably saved himself and some houses around him too."

While the pilot's quick thinking may have prevented a much worse catastrophe, Gelinne's actions may have saved his life.

People are now calling the father and son heroes for their courageous acts.

"I don't look at it that way," said John Gelinne Sr. "I look at it as someone that saw something, that needed to do something."

The cause of the crash has not yet been released.

This article was written by "Disco" Don Harrison for WMAR.