Passengers escape after plane crash near Savannah

By Brian Entin - bio | email

JASPER COUNTY, SC (WTOC) - It was a very close call for three businessmen in a small plane headed to Savannah.

Just after 5 p.m. Monday, the engine quit over Lowcountry marshes just north of Savannah off Highway 17 and the Back River.

All three men escaped with no injuries.

"We're doing fine. Within about four minutes, the Coast Guard was hovering on top of us and helping us get out of the plane. It was great," passenger Tony Howell said.

Howell says the single-engine Cessna was flying from Greenville, N.C., to Savannah when at about 1,500 feet, the engine cut out.

He says the pilot made the decision to try and land on a levee in the marsh, but the plane slid into the water.

T.C. Pipkin was working on a bridge nearby when he heard a bang.

"I heard an engine stall and it seemed they were going down. I thought they were going to go back up and then I heard a loud splash," Pipkin said.

Levy Fire was working Monday night to contain any fuel that may be leaking from the plane.

Everyone on the scene agreed it could have been much worse.

"I'll be honest with you, they are lucky to be alive," Pipkin said.

Howell credits the Coast Guard for making such a quick rescue. "They did a great job getting to us, and we really appreciate it. Thank God they were close," Howell said.

A Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman says investigators from Columbia, S.C., will arrive on Tuesday morning to begin investigating.

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