Scouts from West Salem’s Boy Scout Troop 150 were packed and ready to leave their camping spot at Marion Lake on Sunday when a single engine Cessna 172B came over the ridge and dropped down over the trees.
Troop leader Matt Matthews said two of the scouts watched as the plane get closer to the water.
“One of them said, ‘How is he gonna land that?’ ” Matthews said, “and the other said, ‘I think he’s crashing, not landing.’ ”
The plane landed in the water, about 200 feet from the shore where the scouts were sitting.
Four people inside the plane swam away after it hit the water. It submerged in moments.
“It sunk within a matter of seconds,” said Ben Kamph of McMinnville, who was hiking with his family. “The entire plane was under water.”
Matthews said the scouts and a backpacker met the four passengers of the plane when they got to the shore.
“There were some dinks and bruises and scrapes,” Matthews said. “After they got dried out, they sat down and got some hot chocolate in them.”
Pilot Trevor Jordan Schultz, 28, was taking Tim Lee Miller, 47, and his two children — Tyrel, 13, and Megan, 12 — for special ride. It was a birthday present for Tyrel.
The plane began experiencing engine problems and about 10 a.m. completely lost power. Schultz spotted Marion Lake and glided the plane to a safe landing on the water.
“It happened so fast; it’s like a dream,” Miller said Monday. “I’m very thankful, I can’t say it enough. I really appreciate Trevor for keeping my kids alive.”
Aside from a few bumps and bruises, “everyone is fine.”
The Boy Scout troop walked the plane’s former occupants to the Marion Lake trailhead, where they met with deputies of the Linn County Sheriff’s Office about 11:30 a.m.
Marion Lake is in the Willamette National Forest about three miles east of Highway 22. It can be accessed by hiking about two miles from the end of Marion Road.
Grady McMahn, district ranger for the Detroit Ranger District, was one of three U.S. Forest Service officials to respond. He said it was the first time anything like this has happened in Marion Lake as far as he knew. The pilot did a good job of landing, he said.
“They get one shot with that and they did a really great job. I can’t imagine how it could have gone any better from what happened,” McMahn said.
Because everyone inside the plane was safe, the primary concern is making sure the water isn’t polluted. So far, there have been no problems.
“So far it looks good. There was nothing coming out of the plane yesterday,” he said. “Marion Lake remains beautiful.”
Matthews said that because the crash didn’t end in tragedy, he can look back on it as a positive learning experience for the scouts.
“Our kids were prepared; they didn’t freak out,” Matthews said. “Our scouts quickly identified the need to get them into dry clothes.”
The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transport Safety Board will continue the investigation into the incident and arrange for retrieval of the plane.