JASPER COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - The survivors of a Tuesday morning plane crash in Jasper have been identified as four people involved with a film crew from California.
Tristan Dorien, Benjamin Griffin, William Oneal and Erica Gore were on their way to New Orleans. Around 2:19 a.m., authorities received calls about a distressed aircraft over B.A. Steinhagen Lake, west of Jasper.
After landing in Woodville, the BE-36 Beechcraft Bonanza was not able to refuel and was attempting to reach the Jasper County Airport when it ran out of fuel over the lake, according to Jasper County Sheriff Mitchel Newman.
The plane, carrying a Pilot and three passengers, impacted the water somewhere near the eastern shore near Martin Dies Jr, State Park, along U.S. Highway 190.
"I remember seeing the lake in the moonlight which was a saving grace at that point," said Tristan Dorien, the pilot. "We came in belly-up and the aircraft stayed in one piece which was great."
Dorien says he injured his head while opening the plane for his passengers to escape. The group used their camera equipment to stay afloat, before swimming to shore.
"Coming down in a plane is never nice as you can imagine but for about two hours in the water, about 1.5 miles, we were swimming back to land in the cold in the middle of the night," Dorien said. "I didn't know until we got out off the water that the whole lake is infested with alligators so to have made it out without a bite we were very lucky."
Dorien was transported by ambulance to a Jasper hospital, where he was later treated a released. "I'm feeling great. It will all heal, as will my dignity." Dorien said.
Authorities were able to locate the crash site around 4:10 a.m. and are currently working to locate the aircraft below the surface of the water. A helicopter assisted in the search.
The crew's cameras, equipment, laptops, and phones are a total loss.
The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating.