2 people rescued after plane hits the water in California's Half Moon Bay. Pilot says it was not a stunt

A man and a woman were rescued by the Coast Guard after a small plane went down near Half Moon Bay off the Northern coast of California.

Posted: Aug 22, 2019 9:20 AM
Updated: Aug 22, 2019 9:20 AM

A plane went down near northern California's Half Moon Bay on Tuesday afternoon, but the pilot and passenger walked away practically unscathed thanks to some quick thinking and the US Coast Guard.

David Lesh, 34, and his friend were doing a photoshoot of his new Beechcraft Bonanza, CNN affiliate KGO-TV reported, when things started to go wrong.

Lesh told CNN affiliate KPIX that he has heard rumors what happened next was a publicity stunt.

"No, it's not true, for many reasons. One, I just bought this brand-new airplane. It was my pride and joy on its first maiden voyage," Lesh told the station.

What did happen was that the plane lost power, and he couldn't get the engine running again, Lesh told KGO-TV. It skipped along the water a few times, but he said there was no impact and both he and his friend were fine.

The plane floated for about 30 or 40 seconds, he said, during which Lesh and his passenger stood on the wing. The whole incident -- from realizing something was going amiss to hitting the water -- only lasted one or two minutes.

Meanwhile, Owen Leipelt was flying overhead, where he and his passenger were tasked with taking photos of the Beechcraft in the sky. They both saw the plane fall.

They called air traffic control, which sent the information to Coast Guard Sector San Francisco Command Center. About 20 minutes later, the Coast Guard arrived to the scene, hoisting Lesh and the passenger into a helicopter, according to a news release by the Coast Guard.

"The second pilot's quick response to report the downed plane and remain on scene greatly aided the Coast Guard's prompt response and ability to save two lives," said Lt. Cmdr. Joshua Murphy, the Air Station San Francisco Dolphin pilot, in the statement.

Both Lesh and his passenger refused medical treatment, and there were no reported injuries.

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