Three people, boating off Catalina Island, spot a small plane plunge into the ocean and rescue the pilot and his passenger. Reggie Kumar reports for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014.
Four miles from Catalina Island, Michael Anthony Naffziger was on a boat with his brother and his brother’s wife when they spotted a small two-seat plane above them with engine problems.
Naffziger heard no engine noise then saw the plane plunge into the ocean.
"I was just thinking, ‘We’re going to help these people. We’re going to help these people at any cost,’” he said. “Thank God we were there. It was divine intervention.”
The boaters pulled the pilot and his passenger out of the water after they were seen clinging to the plane as it floated in the chilly waters.
The pilot, David Prizio, who has 40 years experience flying, only suffered a scratch on his face and a broken finger. His passenger was not hurt.
They were on their way to Avalon from Chino when the unthinkable happened.
“We’re just flying along, cruising towards Catalina," he said. "Things were peachy and the engine just stopped, kind of surged a little bit, then just stopped for good.”
Prizio had no other choice but to ditch the plane in the ocean.
“Obviously the situation was serious,” he said. “I wouldn't say I freaking out or panicking or anything.”
The tail hit the water, the wheels caught and the plane flipped. It went into the air before coming back down.
That’s when the boaters, in the right place at the right time, were able to help pull them out of the water and summon authorities.
“I’m sure the lord had a hand in this,” Prizio said.