Kayakers rescue pilot after small plane crashes into frozen Md. creek

The day following Christmas, a pilot who crashed into a frozen creek was rescued by a Navy veteran and his son from their residence in Anne Arundel, Maryland. They improvised a rescue without any prior knowledge.

On Monday morning, at approximately 10:30 a.M., John Gelinne, a retired naval officer of 30 years, and his son, John Gelinne Jr., Who serves in the Marine Corps, successfully rescued the pilot of the plane that had crashed. They utilized kayaks to traverse Beards Creek in Edgewater.

Officials mentioned that the pilot is undergoing medical care and anticipated to recuperate from his wounds.

  • Additional News from Anne Arundel County.
  • Additional news from Maryland.
  • Additional Regional News.
  • The sole individual on the aircraft was Couchman, hailing from Prince Frederick, Maryland. According to the Maryland State Police, his engine started “sputtering” shortly after taking flight. Immediately after departing from Lee Airport, 71-year-old Steve Couchman crash-landed into Beards Creek, which is a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay.

    Gelinne Sr. Mentioned that he believed the aircraft would collide with their residence prior to crashing into the icy water.

    Sr. Gelinne stated, “We saw him in the water right there, and we looked. We all scrambled out onto the patio, so,” Sr. Gelinne said. “Then we went into the water right there and then skipped, very near and we saw the underside of the aircraft.”

    As per a representative from the Anne Arundel County Fire Department, the temperature of Beards Creek’s water was recorded as 30 degrees, and within a matter of minutes, hypothermia can occur. Gelinne Sr. And his son swiftly took action, realizing the urgency to prevent the pilot from experiencing hypothermia, as they observed Couchman trapped in the creek.

    Gelinne Sr. Said they grabbed kayaks — one red, the other yellow — a life jacket and a shovel, but not paddles.

    He stated, “As you can observe, it is not possible to kayak with a paddle,” alluding to the frozen creek. “Consequently, one must acquire a shovel. Subsequently, I employ the shovel to excavate the ice and effortlessly glide the kayak.”

    Couchman’s son and Sr. Gelinne arrived when they saw the plane’s wing and exited the cockpit. The pilot, who had already exited the plane, kept the son and father afloat in their kayaks while the plane fell into the water and below the ice.

    After the crash, officials promptly transported the pilot to the hospital and subsequently to the shore, following the arrival of a rescue boat from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources within a span of 10 minutes.

    A person with injuries that are not life-threatening is being transported to The Pilot. Fire Department personnel are helping several kayakers who are feeling warm. Everyone who responded did an excellent job! Pic.Twitter.Com/P3zrck9Oj3.

    — Anne Arundel County Fire Department (@AACoFD) December 26, 2022

    Jennifer Macallair from the Anne Arundel County Fire Department stated that the father and son acted “bravely” and probably saved Couchman’s life.

    He exclaimed, “It was rather amusing to actually attempt to reach that location by manipulating a kayak with shovels.” According to the Marines, the creek was the most suitable spot to land the plane, besides the ideal runway. Gelinne Jr., The pilot, shared his perspective while reflecting on the rescue mission.

    Gelinne Sr. Expressed his satisfaction with the way things concluded, acknowledging that, like all aviation accidents, it was undeniably a regrettable circumstance.

    He said, “This could have really ended badly. I’m only happy about one thing, that this guy is well ended, well ended.”

    The plane crash is currently under investigation by the Maryland State Police.

    Here is a map of where the crash occurred.

    Veronica Canales and Stetson Miller from WTOP, who reported from Edgewater, made contributions to this report.

    Be sure to give WTOP a thumbs up on Facebook and follow them on Twitter and Instagram to take part in conversations regarding this article and various other subjects.

    Receive up-to-date news and daily headlines directly to your email inbox by signing up here.

    © 2022 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This site is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

    Hugh Garbrick.

    Hugh graduated from the University of Maryland’s college journalism program in 2020. While studying, he interned at the local newspaper News Magnolia & Anne Queen in Seattle. He also reported for the school’s Capital News Service and is a lifelong resident of Seattle. Hugh has listened quite a bit to the local radio.

    Luke Garrett.

    Luke Garrett. is a D.C. native dedicated to journalism. He is the co-creator, host and producer of the original WTOP podcast, “DMV Download.” The podcast debuted in 2022 and takes a weekly look at the biggest stories and ideas in D.C. region.

    More from WTOP