Sean T. O’Connell attempted to save Jeffrey W. Dickson from drowning, Pointe à la Hache, Louisiana, July 24, 2010. Dickson, 39, was the pilot of a seaplane that was landing on the Oak River when it overturned while decelerating. Inverted, the plane submerged to its pontoons in water about 12 feet deep. Another man in the plane was able to exit, and he surfaced. O’Connell, 38, physician’s assistant, was on a boat in the vicinity that happened upon the scene within a few minutes of the accident. On learning that Dickson was still inside the plane, O’Connell entered the river, swam to it, and submerged. Diving to the pilot’s door, he extended his upper body into the plane but did not find Dickson. He surfaced for air and then made repeated dives to enter the plane to locate him. On a last attempt, he fully entered the plane, made his way toward its rear, and found Dickson. Grasping him by the foot, O’Connell returned to the door, exited the plane with Dickson, and surfaced. He and the other man took Dickson to the boat, where O’Connell attempted to resuscitate him. The men took Dickson to a marina several miles away, and he was then taken to the hospital. He could not be revived. O’Connell sustained scratches, from which he recovered.
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