‘My kids still have a dad’: Crews rescue pilot after plane crashes in Elliott Bay

SEATTLE — Seattle firefighter crews rescued a pilot last week after his small plane crashed into Elliott Bay.

The plane left Port Townsend at 5:55 p.m. on Thursday, May 18, and was heading for Auburn when it went down in Elliott Bay off the 2800 block of Alaskan Way.

The National Transportation Safety Board has recovered the plane from the water. It will be examined at a facility this week.

KIRO 7 spoke with the 42-year-old pilot Brendan Ross less than 24 hours after the crash. He said he’s grateful things turned out the way they did.

“My kids still have a dad and my wife still has a husband, I couldn’t ask for a better outcome honestly,” Ross said. “That was about as well as it could have gone in terms of minimizing damage to the plane and to other people I think the worst of it is my face.”

Ross said he believes his engine failed but doesn’t yet know what caused that to happen. He said he had limited options and putting the plane into the bay was his best bet to keep as many people safe as possible.

“Really when you get into one of those scenarios your first thoughts are where am I going to put this plane somewhere that’s safe,” he said.

“We saw the plane come in, it was a small glider, kind of low and slow, and as it was approaching the water that’s when we lost sight of it,” said witness Karla Saur. “The Coast Guard was there within maybe 30 seconds.”

Another witness was at AQUA for an event when she saw the plane coming down.

“He popped up and was hanging on treading water onto the wings as it was sinking and fully submerged and he started waving his hands for help and one of the boats came to get him and everyone was shouting go faster, go faster!” said Sarah Ball.

Ross said the plane was going about 40 miles an hour when it hit the water. He said he was worried about getting trapped so he opened a window so the plane could equalize.

“I was able to force the door open, swam out,” he said.

Ross said that it was two men on a boat having beers who pulled him out of the water.

“It was nice to be able to catch a ride the rest of the way thanks to those good people,” he said. “They couldn’t believe what they were seeing they said hey man we’re just out here having a few beers and we saw you go in and we thought maybe you needed help and I said, ‘Can I have one, too?’”

Ross was treated at the scene by medics and was taken to the Harborview to be treated for his injuries. He was released from the hospital just hours later. He said he’s ready to get back in the air.

“That’s what makes me think I can climb in a plane because I know how to handle this, you know, I walked away from this because I knew what to do. Let’s get back in there, let’s do it again - the flying part, not the crashing part.”