4 injured when plane lands in marsh

March 28, 2009 5:16:06 PM PDT
There were tense moments on the Peninsula Saturday after a small plane with four people onboard crashed near the San Carlos Airport.

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The single-engine plane went down in the nearby Steinberger Slough. The out-of-the-way landing made for a difficult rescue.

The victims were rushed to Stanford Hospital. Three of the passengers are in fair condition but the pilot suffered more serious injuries.

Just before 11:00 a.m. the Piper, fixed-wing, single-engine plane crashed into a muddy marsh just minutes after taking off from San Carlos Airport.

Emergency crews were on their way almost immediately. Firefighters tried to get to the plane by water and by foot, but the plane's location made it nearly impossible to reach.

"You can't walk on that muddy water out there, so you had to fly them out to get to the airplane," explained Doug Eckles who witnessed the rescues.

A Coast Guard helicopter was the quickest option, especially after officials learned details about those on board.

The pilot was pinned inside the airplane which belongs to the Flying Veterans Club of San Francisco. One of the passengers was only 7-years-old and was the first to be hoisted out.

"When they got her into the helicopter, she was strapped in the helicopter and talking to us, but very scared," said Redwood City Fire Chief Geoffrey Balton.

The little girl's mother was rescued next, then a teenage boy and finally the pilot.

Every minute of the two-hour long ordeal was witnessed by nearby residents.

"You hear a lot of planes and you wonder sometimes are they going to go down near your house when you live near an airport. It's been relatively safe here but it does concern you," Lisa Eckles explained.

The FAA and NTSB have been notified. The cause of the crash is still under investigation.

The pilot Fred Koler remained in serious condition Saturday evening. 16-year-old Zoaver sing was in fair condition as were 33-year-old Kelly Centers and her 7-year-old daughter Sara.

The victims' injuries ranged from leg and neck pain to broken bones.

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