Small plane crashes in waters near Bay Bridge

SAN FRANCISCO

A single-engine Cessna 210 Centurion lost power at about 1:50 p.m. The pilot called in to report the power failure and about 10 to 15 minutes later, a mayday call was issued to the CHP saying a plane was in the water.

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Before the crash, to men were doing aerial photography for Air Flight Service out of Ried-Hillview Airport in San Jose. The pilot said he hoped to make land, but that he ran out of room, turned the plane into the wind, pulled the nose up, and held on for a rough landing. He told ABC7 he was not trying to land on the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge still under construction.

"We felt the engine stop. The oil pressure went to zero and we started going down. We knew that was it. The impact was pretty intense. I didn't have my seatbelt on at first, but once I knew we were going down, I put my seatbelt on and good thing I did," said Matt Barcelona, a photographer.

"It was kind of a slide, then a sudden stop," said Bruce Moody, the pilot.

The plane came to rest in only a few feet of depth, but with water rushing in that mattered less, than just getting out.

"It felt like a long time, but I was starting to think about if I didn't open that door handle pretty soon, I was going to be in this plane for a long time," said Moody.

The men were fortunate in more than one way, since they came down just half a mile away from U.S. Coast Guard boats who were practicing search and rescue drills, at the right place and at the right time.

"The pilot got very lucky that all the pieces were in the right place at the right time," said Lieutenant Commander Leanne Rusk, with the United States Coast Guard.

Just north of the Bay Bridge toll plaza in the mud flats of Emeryville, a U.S. Coast Guard flotilla was conducting training exercises nearby and rescued the passengers within 10 minutes of the crash.

There were only two passengers on board. They were both taken to Yerba Buena Island where the San Francisco Fire Department and paramedics could evaluate them.

There is a small fuel slick that is spreading from the plane, but the U.S. Coast Guard said they are not too concerned about it.

The plane is still floating in the water and it is up to the airplane's owners to salvage it. If it's not out by nightfall, the Coast Guard will go in and mark it. It's only in a few feet of water and not in the shipping lanes.

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