New Milford man rescues pilot at Jersey shore
A New Milford High School graduate was recently part of a team of lifeguards that rescued a pilot whose banner plane crashed in New Jersey.
Charlie Osborne, 20, son of CJ Osborne of New Milford and Kathleen Osborne of New Jersey, quickly acted on June 27 when he and fellow lifeguard Scott Meggitt, 21, saw a plane edge closer to the water, then hit the water and flip over.
“Out of the corner of my eye I saw a banner falling off a plane and I thought ‘That’s weird,’ ” Charlie said. “I watched the plane get lower and lower and then it hit the water, flipped forward and went upside down.”
Osborne said everything happened so fast. As it all unfolded, he hopped off his Surf City stand, grabbed a board and ran into the water.
“There wasn’t too much thinking,” the lifeguard of five years said. “I just went into rescue mode.”
Joining him in the approximate quarter-mile swim to the scene of the accident was Meggitt, who was at another lifeguard stand nearby.
“As we got farther out, I spotted (the pilot’s) head,” the 2018 New Milford High School graduate said, noting he and Meggitt immediately padded over to the pilot and settled him onto Osborne’s board.
After asking the pilot if he was alone and if he had any major injuries, the lifeguards transferred the pilot to Meggitt’s board, which was bigger, and they all paddled to shore.
The pilot of the Cessna 150 had slipped out the window when the plane flipped over, Osborne said.
Emergency crews were waiting on the shore to receive the pilot, who had called mayday moments before the plane began to go down.
“By time we were in, there were tons of people there,” Osborne said.
The lifeguard, who studies aerospace at the University of Virginia, said one of the surf cameras in the area captured the whole accident and rescue.
“It’s a great video,” Osborne said, emphasizing the timing of the video.
Word of the rescue quickly spread across news outlets in New Jersey and social media.
Osborne’s grandmother, Sonnie Osborne, of New Milford, received a call from her grandson a few hours after the accident.
“He called us about two hours after it happened,” she said. “He could barely speak.”
He also received some text messages from people asking, “Did you save someone from a plane crash?”
Osborne said lifeguards are taught in training how to respond should a plane go down.
“People are always like, ‘As if,’ ” he said. “I’ve participated in some serious rescues on the beach and had to call the paramedics,” but added this one tops his list of rescues.
Osborne is a lifeguard on the Jersey Shore each summer.