US Sailing is awarding an Arthur B. Hanson Rescue Medal to Jodee Carvalho and Adam Carper for rescuing the pilot of a crashed airplane from a river in Edgewater, Maryland, on March 26, 2010.
The pilot, 76-year-old Richard Dreyer, was flying his recently restored vintage single-engine airplane to the Eastern Shore when a mechanical problem forced him to try to land at a small airport. He ended up making a crash landing in the South River. The crash was observed by many local people who flooded telephone lines with 911 calls. As emergency responders were summoned, local residents Carvalho and Carper were already on the way to the crash site from Liberty Marina in Carvalho’s outboard-powered inflatable dinghy.
“Thankfully, I had my raft handy and the motor started quickly,” said Carvalho. By the time they reached the accident scene, the plane was almost completely submerged in the 42-degree water, with no survivors visible. Carvallo recalled seeing a piece of debris and the pilot’s head. ”He knew what he was doing. He got the plane down safely, and he was already out of the plane by the time we got there,” said Carper. Carvalho and Carper pulled him into the raft. Carvalho returned to the site of the accident and rescue and tied a rope and a marker to the plane so officials could locate it under water.
“Training on the job as a commercial fisherman for 20 years taught me a lot,” said Carvalho. “It’s important to be aware of your surroundings, quick on your feet and sharp in your mind. You never know what can happen at sea.”
The Arthur B. Hanson Rescue Medal is awarded by US Sailing’s Safety-at-Sea Committee to any person who rescues or endeavors to rescue any other person from drowning, shipwreck, or other perils at sea within the territorial waters of the United States, or as part of a sailboat race or voyage that originated or stopped in the U.S. Since it was established in 1990 by friends of the late Mr. Hanson, an ocean-racing sailor from the Chesapeake Bay, the Arthur B. Hanson Rescue Medal has been presented to more than 170 boats. Any individual or organization may submit a nomination for a Hanson Rescue Medal.