Pair Survives Plane Crash at Sea En Route to Charity Mission in Haiti


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iStockphoto/Thinkstock(MIAMI) — A father and daughter from Alabama are continuing on with their medical mission in Haiti after surviving a harrowing plane crash off the coast of Florida while en route to the island nation.

Dr. Richard McGlaughlin, 59, and his 25-year-old daughter, Elaine McGlaughlin, departed from their home near Birmingham, Ala., on Saturday for a planned stop in Miami, before continuing on to Haiti.  Just one hour after the pair took off from Miami, however, trouble struck in their small plane, forcing Dr. McGlaughlin, the pilot, to send a distress signal to Coast Guard officials that their single-engine jet was going down.

Quickly coming to their aid were two Coast Guard lieutenants, who happened to be on a cargo mission nearby and raced to the plane’s location, just off the coast of Andros Island in the Bahamas. The Coast Guard also deployed a HC-144 Ocean Sentry fixed-wing aircraft from Miami to find the McGlaughlin’s airplane.

Mechanical failure had caused the engine to stop, something both father and daughter could see from their perches on board the plane.

The McGlaughlins relied on the plane’s parachute to descend into the ocean, but at a descent of about 25 miles per hour.  Once the two hit the water, they faced the risk of drowning as the water in the plane rose around them.

The doctor and his daughter managed to make it out onto one of the plane’s wings, and then into an emergency inflatable raft stored on the plane.  Minutes later, an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter deployed from Clearwater by the Coast Guard began to circle overhead.

Video shot by the Coast Guard shows the tail and wing of their plane sticking up out of the water, along with the plane’s parachute that saved their lives.

Coast Guard officials were able to hoist the two up out of the water and safely into the helicopter, with no injuries reported.  The pair were then flown to Odyssey Airport in Nassau, Bahamas.

Despite the scare, the incident wasn’t enough to keep McGlaughlin and his daughter from going to Haiti; they departed Monday morning to the country.

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