By Michael Abeyta

MESA COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)– Rafters helped rescue a pilot who crashed his plane into the Colorado River on Tuesday.

Max Meneley was in the right place at the right time. He and some friends and family were finishing a rafting trip on the river near the Colorado-Utah border when they had an experience they will never forget.

(credit: Mesa County)

“We’re floating pretty mellow. We saw a plane fly through the canyon and then about fifteen minutes later we saw it crumpled up like somebody stomped on a can,” said Meneley.

They approached the wreck fearing the worst, but were pleasantly surprised by what they found. The pilot seemed to be okay.

Max Meneley (credit: CBS)

“I was super happy that he was up and walking and obviously alive,” said Meneley.

The group sprang into action, getting the pilot onto their boat, so they could take him to safety.
“We got a board off the raft and had him lay down on that because I thought his back might have been hurt, and we put him on the boat,” said Meneley.

(credit: Mesa County)

“We called 911 told them where we were going and they met us here.”

Meneley said on the trip they made sure he was doing okay by talking with him, “He talked the whole time. We learned all about him.”

(credit: CBS)

Finally, they were able to get him into the care of paramedics and into a rescue helicopter. Meneley said that after a long trip with an eventful ending, he’s ready to go home.

He’s also happy to have been able to help someone in dire need, “It was good to get him here, say goodbye to him, with the paramedics and just know that he’s okay.”

(credit: CBS)

Michael Abeyta is a 4th generation Coloradan and a Multimedia Journalist for CBS4. His stories can be seen on CBS4 News at 5 & 6. He is on Twitter! Follow him @AbeytaCBS4.