Good Samaritans help rescue two from plane crash at Albert Whitted Airport

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – Three good Samaritans are being hailed as heroes after they helped rescue two people from a plane that crashed at Albert Whitted Airport Friday morning.

Ulises Almarante, Tracy Brunkel, and Derrick Helmich work for Advertising Air Force, a banner company based at the airport.

They were watching when the plane over shot the runway and crashed into the water.

“I heard the engine and I turned and saw he was going to fast so I called to get inside the bus and we were watching. The landing gear was vibrating,” said Almarante.

Brunkel said, “Started wobbling. Tried to stop on his brake. Next thing you know, he just nose dive right into the water.”

The three rushed over to help.

“Ulises and I jumped in. Derrick, I guess stayed on the radio,” said Brunkel.

“I was letting the ground tower know that we were arriving at the scene,” said Hemlich.

The two occupants inside were pilot Gerald Kerr and passenger Elizabeth Reynolds.

The plane was sinking fast.

“We held the older lady. She couldn’t swim. So we held her on the plane just to keep her aboard,” said Brunkel.

U.S. Coast Guard arrived and threw Brunkel rescue lines.

“I had to grab it and swim it back to the boat where the coast guard was so they could lift her up and then I went back and got the elderly gentleman which was the pilot of the plane,” she said.

Crews pulled Kerr and Reynolds out of the water and took them to the boat ramp to be treated.

“They were pretty shaken and shocked,” said Petty Officer, Grant Burns.

Officials said the three are heroes.

“We always appreciate good sams (Samaritans) help because sometimes we’re not the first on scene, so it was good for them to be there in the right spot at the right time,’ said Burns.

The victims were taken to Bayfront Health and treated for minor injuries. They are expected to be okay.


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