UPDATE: Business owner's drone helps responders view Jefferson plane crash scene

Sheriff's Office: Uninjured occupants Newcastle residents
Sat, 06/23/2018 - 9:15pm

    UPDATE: Jefferson Fire and Rescue was having a fundraiser at Jefferson Scoop when Lincoln County Communications called the agency out to a plane crash near Augusta Road about 5 p.m. Saturday, Fire Chief Walter Morris said. The seaplane's pilot and lone passenger, both men, got themselves out of the upside down plane, got checked at the scene by Waldoboro Ambulance paramedics and did not need to go to a hospital, Morris said in a phone interview Saturday evening.

    Morris said he had called for equipment to carry the occupants out of the swampy area Dyer Stream runs through, but they were able to walk out.

    Names were not available. The two are both from Newcastle, Lincoln County Sheriff's Sgt. Aaron Beck said by phone later.

    An Augusta Road motorist reported the crash via cell phone after seeing the plane flying very low then appearing to nose-dive into the swamp, Morris said.

    Jefferson Scoop owner Joe Holland aided the effort with his drone that provided an aerial view of the scene; it was the first time the department involved a drone in an emergency, Morris said.

    "It was extremely beneficial." Morris has been learning about the help drones can be, including hearing about it at a York County fire chiefs' meeting where it was discussed in connection with the recent 300-acre fire in the Wells-Kennebunk area, he said.

    Morris said he may compile a resource list of drone owners willing to help in a response as Holland did Saturday.

    "That is a great idea," Holland said in a separate phone interview Saturday night. He has had the drone about a year and has found the technology helpful when he fished professionally across the nation, he said. Holland estimated he had the drone about 400 feet above the crash scene.

    He said he'd held the event at the business to raise funds and awareness about the department and all it does. "I feel they're the heroes in town."

    Asked what he was feeling that night about having the fundraiser and then using his drone to aid in the effort at the crash scene, Holland said: "It felt awesome to be able to help them in more than one way."

    After the crash, the business’s Facebook page had a post reading: “Please pray for all those involved as our first responders make their way out into the swamp.”

    Lincoln County Sheriff's Office also responded and was going to take care of notifying the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board, Morris said.

    He could not see the extent of any damage to the plane, which he believed was still sitting in the swamp that night, he said.

    Morris said Maine Department of Environmental Protection was notified of the possibility fuel may have leaked into Dyer Stream. Three firefighters who trudged about half a mile to the crash smelled fuel, but saw no sheen, he said.

    Original post: Emergency crews have responded to the scene of a plane crash into a Jefferson swamp and it appears all occupants got out of the plane OK, Lincoln County Communications confirmed shortly before 6 p.m. Saturday.

    No details were available yet.