JOLIET, Illinois — An Illinois woman, who was on her first helicopter ride, managed to help land the chopper after the pilot passed out during a flight with her fiance in Hawaii.
Carli McConaughy action’s saved the life of her fiance, Adam Barnett, and the helicopter pilot.
The couple spoke exclusively to WGN in Chicago when they returned home from their Hawaiian vacation where they got engaged.
The couple said they were taking an incredible tour of the island of Oahu when the pilot suddenly stopped talking and slumped over.
“At first I thought he was playing a bad trick on us, and when I realized he wasn’t waking up, I didn’t know what to do,” McConaughy told WGN.
McConaughy said her fiance screamed at her to “pull up.” When the helicopter was just about 1,000 feet above the ocean, she grabbed the controls and slowed their free fall just enough to save their lives.
“It was one of the loudest things I can ever remember,” Barnett said.
Barnett said when the helicopter crashed, he looked over and saw his fiance about an inch from being underwater with the pilot passed out on top of her.
Barnett managed to swim out of the chopper and lift the wreckage off a sand bar as the water rose around them.
The couple was then able to pull the pilot out as he slipped in and out of consciousness.
The couple told WGN they suffered bruises, cuts, and broken bones.
They credit luck and their own quick-thinking with saving their lives.
“You start to think about the bigger picture a lot more after something like that happens to you,” Barnett said.
McConaughy said she didn’t think she’s survive the crash.
The cause is under investigation. The pilot survived, but it’s unclear what caused him to pass out.