Red Cross Real Heroes: Matinicus Island Rescue

Updated 2 years ago

July seventeenth, 2011 is a date that residents of Matinicus Island won’t forget anytime soon.Three people boarded a plane to head off the island.” This was a very routine day. The weather was fine. In fact, it was quite calm. The wind was probably light out of the west. Normal take-off, and everything was performing fine. The airplane, everything was in parameters,” said pilot, Robert Hoffman.But at about 200 feet up, the engine quit.” Didn’t have much time to do anything except attempt to restart and it didn’t restart obviously,” said Hoffman.The pilot, Robert Hoffman says they were traveling at a speed of close to 70 miles per hour.Hoffman says just before they hit the water, he pulled the wheel all the way back.The pilot was able to exit the aircraft from the pilot window. The two passengers in the back used the cargo door, but the passenger upfront remained inside the plane.Once Hoffman realized this, he went to help.” She grabbed my clothes and continued on up and I helped her up so she could get some air,” said Hoffman.Hoffman says they hung onto the plane for a few minutes before it sunk.Luckily, there was a floating piece of fiberglass they were able to hang on to.Hoffman says they were in the water for about fifty minutes before the boats arrived.” We tried to keep the morale up I think. In fact Eva would turn around and look at me and say don’t you let go and I would ask her how she was doing,” said Hoffman.Eva murray was the passenger up front. She says they had little time to react.” A little bit, of is this real, mixed with a sense of the necessity to not to interfere with the pilot,” said Murray.Murray recalls Hoffman saying we are going to have to get out.” He put himself to work, ditching the plane thoughtfully rather then letting it crash randomly, so we would have the maximum chance of getting out,” said Murray.Murray says she blacked out a few times, but remembers seeing the boats headed their way.” It looked like the boat races because when you’re right on the end of it, it was the whole line of boats coming right at us at speed,” said Murray.Those boats were driven by several lobster fishermen on the island.” Very, very reassuring to know we live in a community where everybody feels they are a first responder to some extent,” said Murray.Robert Young was the first to arrive.” It’s what we do. If somebody’s in trouble you go help them, said Hero Recipient, Robert Young”He described what he came upon.” Saw four people hanging onto the bellypod and asked them if everybody was accounted for and they said yes,” said Young.Clayton Philbrook also came to the rescue. Both men say it seemed like the right thing to do, not heroic.” I don’t think so. Primarily because we weren’t in any real danger and secondly I think it’s a sad comment on the world today that just going to the aid of somebody in distress is considered heroic. I was raised to think that that’s what you do,” said Hero Recipient, Clayton Philbrook.” Life would be a lot better if everybody did look out for each other. I know life is hectic, even out here to a certain extent,” said Young.A thought echoed by others who took part in the rescue.” I was working outside. Pretty much got to drop everything and go, there’s no question about it, it’s just what you have to do,” said Hero Recipient, Craig MacLeod.” We don’t have 911 out here. We do it ourselves, very resilient like that out here,” said Hero Recipient, Lacey Leigh.But for Murray and the others rescued on the water that day. They will be forever grateful for the courageous acts of these men and women.” So I owed a lot of hugs to a lot of people that I didn’t even realize at the time who was who,” said Murray.


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