Boaters, kayakers attempted to save victims of ultralight plane crash in Jefferson County

JEFFERSON COUNTY -- Officials with the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office on Wednesday, August 9th identified a 51-year-old man and 16-year-old boy killed when an ultralight plane crashed into the Rock River Tuesday night. They are David Plambeck of Edgerton and Max Burlingame of Fort Atkinson.

The plane was taken out of the water Wednesday morning. The cause of the crash is still under investigation.

Officials called the aircraft an experimental light sport plane, commonly called a "trike." It went down after departing from Fort Atkinson Municipal Airport.

"Recreational boaters in the area of the crash assisted with retrieving the pilot and the passenger. Life-saving attempts were unsuccessful," said an official with the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office.

Plane crash in Jefferson County

Dozens of homes line the Rock River. Lisa McBride said she was home with her boyfriend, Craig, and members of his construction crew. They saw the aircraft flying over the water before the crash.

Lisa McBride

"We heard a bang and thought maybe it was someone pulling out of the bar who got hit by a motorcycle," said McBride.

The sounds of police sirens soon followed. McBride's 14-year-old daughter, Novalee, jumped barefoot on her bike to see what was going on. She spoke to people on the scene, who informed her they needed a boat.

"I biked as fast as I could back home and I told my stepdad and my uncles, 'we gotta go now. Someone needs help,'" Novalee said.

The family said the three men jumped into action and got their pontoon out on the water where other kayakers were also trying to help.

Plane crash in Jefferson County

Plane crash in Jefferson County


"The guys were able to pull one of the men on the boat, but he was unresponsive and they got him to the dock where police and authorities were all sitting and they got him off," said McBride.

McBride said the other victim was wheeled in on a kayak.

"I know the guys are down. They wish they could've gotten there sooner," said McBride.

McBride said she wonders how far the current would have carried the aircraft if the three men had not responded when they did.

Plane crash in Jefferson County

Plane crash in Jefferson County

"I'm very proud of my family and what they did," said McBride.

The family hopes the victims' loved ones know the loss of the two men is being felt in the hearts of strangers who did all they could to try and save them.

The cause of the crash is being investigated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the sheriff's office and the DNR.