Aviation

Pilot survives plane crash in frigid Southeast Alaska lake, then swims to shore

A 34-year-old pilot survived a Southeast Alaska plane crash Wednesday and swam through frigid glacial waters to shore before being rescued by Coast Guard crews, officials said.

The pilot, whom officials did not identify, was flying in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve when his plane's engine seized, the Coast Guard said in an alert.

The plane descended and flipped when it hit Crillon Lake, 10 to 20 yards from the shore, the Coast Guard said.

Crillon Lake is a remote glacial lake near the western edge of the park. Water temperatures are estimated at 35 to 45 degrees, according to Matthew Cahill, park spokesman.

The weather at the time included 12 mph winds and an air temperature of 61 degrees, the Coast Guard said.

The pilot was found onshore by a Coast Guard rescue helicopter crew. He had a survival bag with dry clothes, fire-starting materials and bear spray, the agency said.

The Rescue Coordination Center first notified the Coast Guard of the crash, said Lauren Dean, public affairs specialist with the Coast Guard.

The pilot was hoisted from the shoreline by an Air Station Sitka MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew. He had suffered minimal injuries and had no major medical concerns. He was flown to Sitka, the National Park Service said.

The plane was expected to be recovered, the park service said.

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