‘Like in a movie’: Acton man and his daughter were just feet from helicopter crash at Miami Beach

Wade Callison and his daughter, Avery, had gone south to escape the cold for a few days.

Wade Callison and his daughter, Avery, of Acton, decided to escape the cold and head to Miami Beach for a few days, and had just gone swimming when the unexpected happened: A helicopter crashed into the water just feet away from them.

It was adrenaline, Callison said, that pushed him to help the passengers still inside.

The father-daughter duo headed to Florida at the end of last week.

“She needed somewhere warm to escape the cold,” Callison told Boston.com in a phone interview.

On Saturday, the two had brunch, and then around noon went to go sit on the sand. Not long afterward, Avery asked her father if they could go in the water. At South Beach, Callison explained, it gets a little deep, but then there’s a sand bar to stand on and it’s more shallow.


There were planes and other aircraft flying overhead that day, Callison said, but then he noticed a helicopter that appeared to be flying low.

Callison told his daughter to step back a bit, and then the helicopter crashed into the water about 20 feet from them.

“It going down was like in a movie,” Callison described. “It sprayed us. The glass canopy broke and [glass] flew towards us.”

It was a small, black helicopter. Callison and another man rushed toward the wreckage. It only took seconds to get to it; it was that close.

By the time they got to it, the pilot had already gotten himself out and was standing up. Callison and the other man helped to get the harness off one of the women inside who, he said, appeared injured. They carried her until a surfboard arrived to lay her on. Then, they worked to help free the woman in the back of the aircraft.

“The woman in the back, it took a long time. It took a long time to extricate her,” Callison said.

As of Monday, the two women remained in the hospital and were said to be stable, according to Florida news station Local 10. The man did not require hospitalization. The victims were a husband and wife, and a friend.


Since that day, Callison said the moment has been on his mind. His daughter, he said, waited on the beach as he helped with the passengers, and has been OK despite witnessing the crash. What he remembers most is the faces of the two injured women.

“It wasn’t heroism,” he said. “It was, I have to do this because there’s probably people in there.”


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