Off-Duty Fla. Cops Grab Pilot from Submerged Airplane

LANTANA, Fla. --

A WPBF crew was at the scene of a plane crash in Lake Osborne Saturday afternoon.

Witnesses said a single-engine experimental aircraft took off from Lantana Municipal Airport at about 12 p.m. when the engine stalled, leaving the aircraft without power.

Police said the pilot, 58-year-old Boynton Beach resident Michael Cupaidle, experienced problems while taking off and tried to turn around, but he never made it. Fire-Rescue spokesman Don DeLucia said Cupaidle was killed in the crash.

"I was inside working at the computer, and I kind of heard a funny noise but didn't think too much about it," said witness William Coakley. "Then when I heard the thump of the helicopter from the sheriff's department, I thought I had another helicopter on my roof. So, that's when I went outside to take a look."

Investigators said Cupaidle had been making repairs on his plane and decided to take it for a test run.

Police said that "when the plane had taken off from Lantana Airport that there had been sputtering and backfiring. However, the individual was able to take off anyhow."

Edward Rudolph said he was driving when he saw the plane and knew something was wrong.

"It appeared to me when he turned the engine it was barely wind milling, and it looked like it tried to turn a little bit," Rudolph said. "When he dropped, it went into a stall and went straight into the water."

Off-duty sheriff's Deputy Travis Keene was fishing with his son when heard the crash. Within minutes, he was onboard the sheriff's office Marine Unit boat, which was also nearby.

"Our off-duty deputy dove into the water," said Teri Barbera, of the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office. "He was able to cut the straps on this individual's shoulder straps and cut the waist area. He was able to pull him up, and together our two deputies pulled him onboard."

Once on shore, paramedics tried to resuscitate Cupaidle, but they said it was too late and he was pronounced dead.

By late afternoon, dozens of onlookers had gathered to watch investigators pull the wreckage out of the water.

National Transportation Safety Board investigators will look at the plane, which was taken to a warehouse, to try and determine what went wrong.

Investigators said Cupaidle was an experienced pilot. However, WPBF talked with a handful of experienced pilots who were at the scene for much of the afternoon. They said that if, in fact, the plane was sputtering and backfiring before takeoff, the pilot should have aborted.

Lake Osborne Plane Crash Map-80.0803200155496526.5943302287082131223044524

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