RICHARDSON (CBSDFW.COM) – A Richardson family is home safe after a short plane ride in paradise ended with a terrifying plunge into the sea.
The couple and their 4-year-old son were sightseeing off the island of Roatán near Honduras in the Caribbean, when they suddenly found themselves struggling for their lives.
“It happened very quickly,” Dallas-based lawyer Andy Atkins said. “It was just (like) you think in the movies; slow-motion, ‘Is this really happening?’And then you realize, yes this really is happening.”
Atkins, his wife Jenny and their 4-year-old son Logan were sightseeing in a private plane when it reportedly lost an engine and dumped them upside-down into the waters of the Caribbean.
“I didn’t know where they were,” Atkins said. “I was in the seat in front of them just trying to get myself out so that I could get them.”
The restraining belts were harnesses –– like those in a race car –– rather than lap belts. When he finally surfaced, Atkins couldn’t find his family.
“They weren’t there,” Atkins says, speaking of his family. “I asked the pilot if he knew where they were, he said ‘I don’t know.’”
He continues, describing the panicked scene: “The first time I went down, I couldn’t find them, I couldn’t see them, I looked all around the plane, didn’t see them, went right back up for air, went down again, and suddenly I just had my son Logan in my arms.”
Miraculously, the pilot had his wife. But the miracles were just beginning.
Two boats happened to be nearby and those who were on board jumped into the water to help.
“I think it was a miracle that they were there, I think it was a miracle that there were two doctors there and there were two people that needed doctors … and it was a live-aboard dive boat and they had a lot of things,” he said.
They had oxygen and a way to get the family to an island clinic. Then they flew them to a mainland hospital.
Back home, Atkins says his family is healing. “We’re hoping for as full a recovery as we can get.”
And grateful for the generosity of others, many of whom were total strangers.