POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Two Coast Guard members had the difficult task of rescuing two pilots after they both made hard landings in a marshy area in Polk County on Thursday.
Lt. Eric Bonomi, a helicopter pilot and Kevin Renshaw, a diver, both from Air Station Clearwater, spoke about the dramatic rescue at a press conference on Friday.
The two said they were sent to an area near Fort Meade to hoist the two pilots out of a field they had crashed in.
Authorities said a Polk County Sheriff’s Office helicopter went down while responding to a gyrocopter that made a hard landing on Mosaic property.
The area where both pilots landed was wet and mucky “almost to the point of being quicksand,” Bonomi said, and unreachable by vehicle.
Renshaw was lowered to the ground and managed to stay afloat as he crawled through some brush to get to the pilots.
Both pilots were hoisted out of the field and taken to Tampa General Hospital. They are expected to be okay.
One was identified as 52-year-old Lavon Hughes, who has been with the sheriff’s office since 2007.
The name of the gyrocopter pilot was not released.
The Federal Aviation Administration will be investigating the causes of the crashes.