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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes
SAN FRANCISCO BAY NWRC: Refuge Officer Walter Duran Honored for Role in Plane Crash Rescue Effort
Region 8, February 11, 2008
San Mateo County Sheriff Greg Munks (right) presents Refuge Officer Walter Duran with a commendation for his role in the October 2007 rescue. (Photo: USFWS)
San Mateo County Sheriff Greg Munks (right) presents Refuge Officer Walter Duran with a commendation for his role in the October 2007 rescue. (Photo: USFWS) - Photo Credit: n/a

Refuge Officer Walter Duran from the San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge Complex, was one of six people honored  recently (Feb. 11) by the San Mateo County Sheriff for their roles in the rescue of a local father and son who had crashed their airplane in San Francisco Bay on October 27, 2007.   

Sheriff Greg Munks presented commendation awards to Duran and Greg Grinton of the California Department of Fish and Game along with flight instructors Maggie Rogers and Brett Smith, and air traffic controllers David Greene and Wali Elahi.

"This is a great story," Munks said. "It is a great example of teamwork and (keeping) cool under pressure."

The engine on the family‚Äôs Beechcraft Bonanza stopped shortly after Pilot Rob Fisher and his 10 year-old son, Christopher, had taken off from San Carlos Airport. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, the aircraft was at about 1,000 feet when the engine stalled.  

Fisher skillfully piloted the un-powered aircraft into the bay about a half mile from shore, keeping the wings horizontal and preventing the plane from overturning.  Fisher had to cling to his plane with his son as it sank. He said it was his first crash in his 20 years of flying.

Rogers, who was piloting a helicopter in the area with Smith, flew to the crash site and dropped life jackets to the Fishers.

Fisher and Christopher swam to shore, where they were plucked from the mud flats by Duran and Grinton,   who were monitoring the start of duck-hunting season in the South Bay. Their 14-foot boat, unlike the rescue craft that came to the Fishers' aid, was capable of reaching them.

Christopher was wrapped in a blanket, and the two were transferred to a fire department boat, Grinton said.

The cause of the crash is under investigation by the NTSB.

Contact Info: Scott Flaherty, , Scott_Flaherty@fws.gov