WESTERLY, R.I. (WPRI) – A man has been rescued after his small plane made an emergency landing into the sea off the coast of Westerly.
Rhode Island State Police say the pilot, 62-year-old Alexander Piekarski, was traveling alone from Long Island, N.Y. to Taunton, Mass. when his plane crashed in the water around 12:45 Saturday afternoon.
Police say Piekarski intentionally made an emergency water landing in order to avoid hitting people at Weekapaug Beach after his plane lost power.
“I noticed up ahead of me there was a plane, and the plane was kind of coming at me,” said Tom Lockwood in an exclusive interview with Eyewitness News. Lockwood was boating from Connecticut to Rhode Island when he says the plane crashed feet away in the water. He estimates the plane crashed about 100 feet from shore.
A group of lifeguards helped rescue Piekarski.
“[We] made our rescue attempt,” said Curt Dumas, one of the lifeguards. “We were able to get him out of the water.”
Firefighters took him to Rhode Island hospital with non-life threatening injuries. No one else was hurt in the crash.
The plane has sunk and the Coast Guard says some fuel did spill into the water, but should quickly dissipate.
Rhode Island State Police continue to investigate the crash. The state aeronautics inspector, with the FAA and NTSB, will inspect the aircraft once it has been removed from the water.