A bloody Robert "Sam" Robertson, the pilot of a small plane that crashed Friday onto Interstate 95 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is shown seated amid the remains of his craft awaiting emergency help after the incident. Robertson, formerly of Hawaii, is recovering.
Ex-isle pilot lives through Florida crash
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A Hawaii native who crashed a cargo plane on a main interstate in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., last week is recovering from surgery and receiving many visitors, a family friend said yesterday.
The story of Robert "Sam" Robertson, who took flying lessons on Lagoon Drive, reached media outlets nationwide with images of him sitting stunned in his battered plane next to a row of cars from a crash that caused no other injuries Friday afternoon.
"It's truly a miracle," family friend Jane Davis said yesterday. "His mother is just so proud of him, and he is doing a little better today."
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Firefighters sprayed a protective blanket of foam onto Interstate 95 in Fort Lauderdale on Friday as they scrambled to treat and rescue pilot Robert "Sam" Robertson. Robertson, 34, formerly of Hawaii, suffered serious injuries but is recovering.
In Florida he's called Bob. Before leaving Hawaii two years ago, family and friends knew him as Sam.
But now Robert Robertson is known as the man who crashed his plane onto the side of an interstate freeway in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to successfully avoid injuring anyone but himself.
"He's an excellent pilot," said Jane Davis, a family friend and co-worker of Robertson's mother. "It's just amazing that he landed on the freeway and not kill anyone in the process. It's truly a miracle."
A former Hawaii Kai resident, 34-year-old Robertson is recovering at a hospital in Broward County after breaking several bones in his face Friday and undergoing surgery yesterday afternoon, according to the Miami Herald.
He was taken to the hospital in critical condition but was upgraded to serious on Saturday, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported.
Robertson, the oldest of four children, took and taught flying lessons on Lagoon Drive before leaving for Florida in 2005, his grandmother Wanda Boardman said last night.
"He's a wonderful flier," Boardman said. "He's so careful with the plane. He went around every section and back again to check before he took us for a ride."
On Friday afternoon, Robertson's cargo plane crashed shortly after takeoff about a half-mile from Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport, said Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen in Atlanta.
Newspapers in Florida reported that Robertson's plane missed several buildings and stopped traffic for hours on Interstate 95, the main highway on the East Coast.
When Boardman saw photos of her grandson, stunned and strapped to the seat of his mangled plane, she was glad he was at least alive.
"It absolutely broke my heart," she said.
Davis said she spoke with Robertson's mother, Julie Coelho, who told her his condition is slowly improving and that he is no longer on a respirator. He cannot talk yet, but is aware of his surroundings and knows he has visitors.
"We're very, very proud of him," Boardman said. "He did a miraculous thing. He has a good mind and thinks ahead like that."
Robertson is a pilot for Monarch Air Group, an air charter service that flies to the Bahamas often. Its president, Paul Slavin, declined to comment on the accident yesterday.
FAA and National Safety Transportation Board investigators are looking into the cause of the crash, Bergen said.
Flying has always been Robertson's passion, Boardman said. When asked whether her grandson will fly again after this accident, she replied, "I'm sure he will."