Pilot describes splashdown near Clearwater

Published: Saturday, February 23, 2013 at 11:13 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, February 23, 2013 at 11:13 p.m.

CLEARWATER — A pilot says he splashed down in the waters off Clearwater to avoid crashing his stalled plane into traffic.

Anthony Marsh was flying from Pennsylvania to the Tampa Bay area early Friday when the Piper Cherokee's engine stopped as he approached St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport.

Marsh tells the Tampa Bay Times (http://bit.ly/YkIqUW ) that he knew he couldn't make it to the airport, so he frantically looked for somewhere to land. Marsh says a nearby bridge and highway were too crowded with traffic, so he aimed for the water.

Marsh says the plane quickly filled with water. He kicked out the windshield and swam away.

Rescue crews found him clinging to the plane's tail. Marsh was treated for injuries to his hand and head.

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating.

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