Broken pontoon leads to rescue from seaplane in East River

EAST SIDE, Manhattan (WABC) -- The FDNY responded to a disabled seaplane in the East River after its pontoon apparently broke.

It happened around 5:35 p.m. near East 20th Street on Friday.

"We have a small child, but it all obviously worked out really well," said Bettina Glenning, a passenger.
EMBED More News Videos

Passenger talks about landing in East River aboard seaplane.

They are back on shore and smiling.

"I'm not going tonight anywhere man, I'm going to go have a glass of tequila somewhere!" said Bill Lawrence, a passenger.

They're laughing now because they can. In fact, Bill is a comedy writer. He's the creator of "Scrubs," "Cougar Town" and "Spin City."

They were all safely rescued from their crippled seaplane after the pilot aborted their takeoff on the East River.

"The plane attempted to take-off three times, on the third time they hit the water they injured three struts on the left side of the plane causing the plane to list," said Dep. Asst. Chief Michael Gala, FDNY.

Moments later, nine passengers and the pilot climbed out onto the plane's pontoon and waited to be rescued.

Police and fire department rescue boats were there within minutes. Charlotte Lawrence was on-board with her father.

"Once you knew that we were safe, it was fine, we made a new friend, we were all smiling eventually, but it was scary initially," Charlotte said.

"Comes up hits the water lightly, comes up a little higher and you think, oh are we taking off, it comes down hits the water, when it went up like 20 feet you knew it wasn't going to gently touch the water, so that was a little freaky," Bill said.

The plane was supposed to be headed to East Hampton. What prompted the pilot to abort the takeoff was not immediately clear. Federal authorities are investigating.

But weather on the river was not a factor.

"Today was a beautiful day, it was light winds, we had an outbound current, it was actually nice conditions on the water," said Lt. Joe Grasso, NYPD Harbor Unit.

You can watch the full FDNY and NYPD Marine Units press below.
Copyright © 2021 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.