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U.S. Navy sailor from Utah part of rescue effort to save passengers in downed plane in the pacific

Posted at 8:15 PM, Oct 09, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-10 00:07:35-04

MURRAY, Utah – A video of U.S. Navy soldiers saving passengers in a downed plane in Micronesia went viral, and one of those sailors is from Murray, Utah.

Kurt Bettfreund is a member of the UCT – the Underwater Construction Team. His wife Abby spoke to Fox 13 about the Sept. 28 incident in Chuuk, Micronesia.

She received a text from her husband to look at her Facebook page, but not to worry.

“I thought, 'oh, he saw a shark that day,' he didn’t want me to worry.”

Turns out, it was dramatic video his team captured showing what they encountered.

An Air Niugini Boeing 737 landed short of the runway and crashed in a Pacific lagoon.

“They were about a quarter mile away from it so they were first on the scene,” said Bettfreund.

The sailors rushed to help the more than 40 passengers and crew from the half-submerged plane.

“When they were approaching, they could hear screaming,” said Bettfreund.

With the plane sinking, the crew climbed aboard looking for those who didn’t make it out.

“They were able to get them in and get them off before the plane was under all the water," Bettfreund said.

Once they were evacuated, sailors took the injured ashore and treated them. All, but one survived.

“He said it was so surreal and it was something he’s never gonna forget,” said Bettfreund. “It was really just a bittersweet experience.”

Abby says it was a miracle the team was in the right place at the right time.

She calls them heroes.

“He said to me that it was – God’s hand was in it. There’s no way that that plane could have landed more perfectly," she said.

The sailor’s good deeds didn’t end there, they also donated blood to three of the critically injured passengers who needed a blood transfusion.

With the focus on their bravery, Abby couldn’t help but laugh at the attention her shirtless husband is receiving on social media.

“I can’t blame him because he does look good without his shirt on. My brothers and my dad have given him so much grief, like 'do you ever wear a shirt Kurt?' I’m Team Shirtless.”