The occupants of a small plane that crashed into the Pacific Ocean filmed themselves while waiting to be rescued by the US Coast Guard, leading to speculations of a staged landing.
David Lesh and a woman passenger spent about 30 minutes in the water on Tuesday after their single-engine Cessna “crashed” in Half Moon Bay, south of San Francisco, all the while taking selfies and recording videos with a cellphone.
Owen Leipelt, who was flying another plane nearby, recorded the crash-landing of his friend’s plane due to an alleged engine failure.
BREAKING: Just spoke with pilot who crashed small plane into ocean outside of Half Moon Bay. He and his friend are physically ok. He snapped photos during the rescue. His friend was flying nearby and took the picture on the right. (📷Chris Leipelt) pic.twitter.com/r9IXVJIFJe— Ian Cull (@NBCian) August 21, 2019
UPDATE: The pilot, David Lesh, took this video after they landed in the water. pic.twitter.com/DIiHSqCx3C— Ian Cull (@NBCian) August 21, 2019
Unbelievable video from pilot David Lesh, of the moment they see @USCGPacificSW come in for the rescue. His friend was flying near them when they crashed, circled around, and was able to guide USCG to their location. pic.twitter.com/SPdsuJpLpY— Ian Cull (@NBCian) August 21, 2019
“There she goes!” Lesh is heard saying in one video, referring to the plane’s tail bobbing in the water.
“The video and Lesh’s reputation for attention-grabbing led to online speculation that the landing was staged,” Associated Press reported.
Speaking to NBC and KRON4, Lesh said, "I was probably 3,400 feet, did everything I could. I couldn't get the motor running and put it into the Pacific.
"We skipped along the water for a few hundred feet and the impact was very minimal, it was not hard at all and we immediately opened the door and got out onto the wing."
"We took a quick inventory of what was in the plane. I grabbed my cell phone and the keys to the car."
"I knew we had about 20 or 30 seconds before it sunk."
Lesh said those accusing him of staging the crash had “lost their mind” as he had bought the plane less than three months ago for more than $200,000 and spent another $40,000 for upgrades, according to AP.
The 34-year-old founder of Colorado-based outerwear company Virtika pleaded guilty to mischief after he was arrested in 2014 in the state for filming himself burning shopping carts while producing a video for his company.
That same year, he was issued a ticket by the Colorado Division of Wildlife over reports that he was chasing a moose — in a car and on foot — for a video, San Francisco Bay Area television station KTVU reported.