EDMONDS, Wash. – Mike and Gaylynn Green are experienced seaplane passengers going back and forth between Lake Washington and the San Juan Islands. Last Friday, they found themselves trying to survive a crash that happened in foggy weather.
"The fog was very low over the water. I could barely make out the lighthouse," Mike Green said as he flew over the familiar sight of Smith Island. "Pretty soon, we got into where it was absolute zero visibility. I could not see land; I couldn't see water. I was very concerned, but I almost started to become panicked, and I usually don't get that way, and never felt that way on a seaplane flight."
Mike Green was seated next to the pilot, and looked down at the air speed and saw 110 knots.
"All of the sudden, a little pocket opened up," he said, maybe 40 to 50 feet above the water.
"When we had that first impact, we bounced, and I knew at that point we were going to crash,” Mike Green said.
Gaylynn Green had smashed her face into the back of his seat.
"It was like we're in a car crash, and we bounded so severely," Gaylynn Green said.
The couple says after that the plane rose up a bit, and then plunged nose first, with the propeller and engine cowling popping off. Then the cabin filled with water.
"At that point, we hit again and I'm like in shock,” Gaylynn Green said. “No, no, no, no, no. I can't do this, this doesn't work for me and I can't do this. And the pilot says, ‘we got to get out of the plane, we got to get out of the plane.’"
Gaylynn Green got the door open and swam out.
"It's like everybody's worst nightmare. You're in a sinking plane, strapped in and your first thought is, survival. I've got to get out this plane," said Mike Green.
They did get out. The couple managed to climb on the wing with the pilot. A third passenger was able to find a life jacket.
"If the plane doesn't sink and we can just sit here, we're going to be okay. They're going to get us, we're getting of the water," says Gaylynn Green.
Then the plane sank.
She had the watch, and for a half an hour or more they were back in the water. The pilot found two life jackets and threw them over. The pilot was on a floating cushion, and keeping the four people together in the current proved difficult. Gaylynn Green said hypothermia began to set in. She started to feel warm, then peaceful, when first a woman in a kayak, then a yacht happened upon them.
All four would be taken to the hospital on Friday Harbor, and then the Greens were flown to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where they would spend the following night for her and two nights for him.
Her face is broken, she said. His sternum is broken, bruising his heart in the impact.