PORTLAND, Maine — The man who was killed when his plane plunged into waters off Cape Elizabeth on Sunday has been identified as a Mercy Hospital doctor.
Hospital spokeswoman Susan Rouillard said in an email Louis Hanson had worked as a physician at Mercy Yarmouth Primary Care.
“Dr. Hanson was a skilled and caring physician and he brought special warmth to all with whom he came in contact, including his Mercy colleagues,” Rouillard said in the email. “We grieve for Dr. Hanson’s family, and for his many patients and friends.”
Hanson, who is from Durham, was the only person in the single-engine aircraft when it crashed into waters near Fort Williams Park.
Hanson had started working at Mercy Yarmouth in December after practicing medicine in Cumberland for 32 years, according to Rouillard.
The four-seat Stinson S108 lost power and crashed into Casco Bay off popular Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth shortly before noon Sunday. The park is home to the 221-year-old Portland Head Light.
Carl Dittrich, who was operating a cart selling lobster rolls and other food, saw the plane approaching the park over the ocean, flying low and getting lower. He ran toward shore and watched the plane crash into the waves.
“It smacked into the water and was just laying there, this bright yellow plane, for about 20 seconds,” he said. “Then it did the classic flip-over, and you see the tail — like a whale’s tale — for about five seconds. And then it was gone — bloop —into the water.”
After the plane hit the water, Hanson began swimming toward shore. But he apparently was injured and was having trouble staying afloat.
The park was busy Sunday, with clear skies and warm temperatures, and crowds of people lined the shore and watched as a helicopter flew over Hanson and dropped him a flotation device. A passing boat pulled Hanson out of the water, witnesses said.
CPR efforts performed on the boat were unsuccessful, and Hanson was unresponsive by the time he was carried to shore, officials said.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash.
The plane on Monday was sitting on the ocean bottom in 60 feet of water, but it wasn’t posing an environmental or navigational threat, Coast Guard Lt. Nick Barrow said.
The plane will have to be removed from the ocean for the NTSB investigation, spokesman Keith Holloway said.
“We are collecting data such as maintenance records, pilot information, radar data and so forth,” he said. “But until the aircraft is recovered, we won’t have the physical documentation.”
Hanson’s plane made international news more than 40 years ago for a test on a system that was designed to allow a disabled plane to float down to earth under a parachute. A short documentary from the 1967 Federal Aviation Administration-sanctioned test shows the plane’s fuselage floating through the air beneath a parachute, its wings having been ejected by explosive devices that removed the pins attaching them.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.