UPDATE: Candy Huffman has died, according to her daughter.
SACRAMENTO — The pilot of the seaplane that crashed into the American River on Wednesday says he still beats himself up over his error in not checking to see if his landing gear was up before an attempted water landing.
Keith Hezmalhalch, a onetime Sacramento resident, flew out of Napa for what was to be a short boating trip up the river, but the plane hit hard.
His passenger, longtime friend Candy Huffman is still in critical condition at the UC Davis Medical Center and remains unconscious.
Hezmalhalch dove into the shallow water four times before he could release Huffman from her seatbelt. He performed CPR until rescuers arrived.
Hezmalhalch credited homeless people on the river for calling 9-1-1 almost immediately after the crash and for getting emergency responders to the scene quickly.
It was a traumatic experience for him because he feels he’s responsible for placing his friend’s life in danger.
“She’s not out of the woods, so any prayers anybody can bring are so need…that’s all that matters to me,” said Hezmalhalch.
Huffman’s family has set up a GoFundMe account to help with expenses.