Skip to content

Two Sault men help pilot tow flipped plane back to shore (2 photos)

Multiple agencies were sent out to the rescue, but not Sault firefighters, which has their union concerned

A relaxing boat trip on the St. Marys River turned out to be much more eventful than a Sault man expected it to be. 

David West and his son-in-law Ron Wright salvaged a plane after it flipped over in the area of the St. Marys River near Bell's Point Campground around noon Monday.

One of the plane’s floats filled up with water when it landed on the surface of the water, causing it to flip over.

“A friend of ours (who is a friend of the damaged plane's pilot) called us when he crashed, so we went down there in the boat and towed (his plane) to shore,” West said, speaking to SooToday Tuesday.

“The pilot (who had already been safely brought to shore in another boat by another Sault resident) had cut himself a bit on his arm, but he got on the boat with us and we went over there, it took us about two hours to tow it to shore because it got really windy,” West said.

West and Wright towed the plane to a dock in the Garden River area.

The plane's pilot, John Paul Finck, 74, suffered minor injuries and did not need to be transported to hospital, say OPP.

Sault OPP, Garden River Fire and Rescue and Sault Ste. Marie Emergency Medical Services responded, along with marine units from OPP, RCMP and the U.S. Coast Guard.

Sault Fire Services crews were not ordered to attend the scene with their rescue boat, and that has Sault Ste. Marie Professional Fire Fighters members concerned.

“With respect to not going on this water rescue, I believe we do not have adequate staffing for effective firefighting capabilities, and with current three-man crews we would certainly have problems with adequate staffing for water rescue,“ said Rob Greve, Sault Ste. Marie Professional Fire Fighters vice president, speaking to SooToday late Monday afternoon.

“In the past we’ve responded to as far north as Goulais, as far east as Ranger Lake and as far south as Little Lake George (where the plane flipped Monday) for water rescue calls for people, animals and boats.”

“I’m certainly glad everything turned out okay this time,” Greve said.

Sault Ste. Marie Professional Fire Fighters have had ongoing concerns with staffing levels for the past several months, stemming from a new staffing plan put forward by Fire Chief Mike Figliola.

Figliola was not available for comment.