Good Samaritan rescues passengers after plane crash in Florida Keys

KeysinfonetMarch 31, 2014 

This 1964 Beechcraft Bonanza airplane crashed 1.5 miles north of Vaca Cut Saturday evening as pilot James Tharp was preparing to land at Florida Keys Marathon Airport. U.S. COAST GUARD

A good Samaritan rescued two passengers aboard a 1964 Beechcraft Bonanza airplane that crashed around 8 p.m. Saturday off Marathon.

According to U.S. Coast Guard Key West Ensign Peter Bermont, the six-seat, single-engine plane crashed around 1.5 miles north of Vaca Cut as the pilot prepared to land at Florida Keys Marathon Airport.

"Station Marathon launched a response boat to assist and when they got on scene, both of the passengers on the aircraft were recovered by a good Samaritan" in another boat, he said. "They were transferred to the Coast Guard response boat with no medical concerns."

"Amazingly, they both walked away unscathed," Bermont added.

The plane is registered to Frankfort, Ill., resident James Tharp, who Marathon Airport Manager Don DeGraw said was piloting it when it crashed. He had a female passenger.

Monday, the plane remained in the water. Bermont said the Coast Guard would monitor it for pollution until it's salvaged. "There hasn't been a salvage response at this time," he said.

Bermont said Tharp and his passenger were brought ashore at Capt. Hook's Marina, which is at Vaca Cut. Bermont and DeGraw had no information on the person who rescued them.

It was the third plane crash since February in which an aircraft was trying to land at or had flown out of the Middle Keys airport.

On March 17, a single-engine 1979 Cessna 210N crashed on the Marathon runway after its rear landing gear collapsed while touching down. Neither pilot David Hill nor his passenger daughter were injured.

In February, a man who rented a plane to fly to the Keys crashed his plane off Palm Beach County waters and is presumed dead.

Andrei Postelnicu, from the United Kingdom, had rented the Piper PA-28 Cherokee single-engine aircraft at Vero Beach Municipal Airport. He had flown to Marathon and was returning to Vero Beach when he went down. Some of his personal belongings and his ID were found on a Stuart beach.

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