9 survive crash of small plane

By Lisa Lipman

Associated Press

BOSTON – A small plane made an emergency water landing off the Massachusetts coast, forcing the nine people aboard to use a life raft as the plane slowly filled with water and sank, authorities said.

Two men and a 14-year-old boy were hanging onto the raft in the 50-degree water of Massachusetts Bay and six others were inside when Coast Guard boats arrived to rescue the two families Sunday night. The plane was submerged by the time the rescuers arrived.

No one was seriously hurt. A 7-year-old girl remained in a hospital today in fair condition.

None of the nine had on life vests, but all were relatively calm, said Coast Guard Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Class Jonathan Wall, one of the rescuers.

“I think they were just relieved to get off the raft. The little girl was crying, ‘I want my mommy, I want my mommy,’ but once we got her mother on the boat, she was fine,” he said, referring to 7-year-old Jessica Lake, whose father was the pilot.

Dana Lake had reported fuel problems with the twin-engine Piper Navajo. The problems started with the plane’s fuel pump, Federal Aviation Authority spokesman Jim Peters said today.

Lake brought the plane down about two miles off Nahant, on the state’s north shore.

“They’re very lucky,” Coast Guard spokeswoman Andrea Stevenson said.

In addition to the 50-year-old pilot, Lake’s wife, Carolyn, 40, was aboard with daughters Katie, 10, Courtney, 8, and Jessica, 7. Also on board were James and Theresa Comosa, both 46, and their children, Jamie, 14, and Nicholas, 9.

The two men and the teen-ager were in the water for about 30 minutes before being rescued. A lone strobe light led Coast Guard rescuers to the raft.

“They were all yelling to us,” Petty Officer Brent Desirey said today. “There was blood on people’s faces, but for a plane crash it was pretty calm.”

A doctor at Boston Medical Center said Lake described how the engines died, one after the other, and their escape from the plane.

“As the plane was slowly filling, they were able to get the life raft out and filled, and get the people out,” Dr. Simon Roy said. “Most of them were into a life raft pretty quickly, so hypothermia really wasn’t an issue.”

The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board planned to investigate.

The plane is owned by Northeast Equipment Leasing Corp. of Somerville, said FAA spokeswoman Arlene Salac. It was traveling to Beverly Airport, about 20 miles northeast of Boston, and had taken off from Nantucket Airport off Cape Cod.

Copyright ©2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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