COEUR d'ALENE, Idaho -Grant Marchant is spending the summer at home from college with his family in North Idaho. He was out boating with friends on Sunday, July 5, when he heard two planes collide over Lake Coeur d'Alene.
"I heard a loud explosive crack noise over my shoulder from behind me, so I turned around and I saw a plane, Cessna-type plane, falling out of the sky. A wing was detached from it. It looked like the fuselage was in flames as it was descending to the water," Marchant said.
Marchant said the driver of his boat started speeding toward the wreckage, he watched a fishing boat head there too.
He said it only took seconds for them to reach the sinking planes, but most of the wreckage was gone by the time they got there.
"We were looking for any signs of life, anything we could try and you know, grab from the water. Same thing with other fishing boat. They slowed down when we got to the impact site. Within seconds, the gentleman from the fishing boat yelled or he found a body, found a body, and then he found two bodies. He said 'I need help, I need help,' so myself and another friend of ours in the boat with me, dove in," Marchant said.
He said the scene was pretty gruesome -- and it was clear immediately that the two men they saw in the water had died. Still, they worked to get preservers around both of them and keep them close to the boat as they waited for help.
"I never once thought I'd be diving into the water and trying to recover bodies from a plane crash over the lake on a nice sunny day, Fourth of July Weekend, but things happen so fast and it was just one of those without hesitation you just know you had to get in the water and we just had to help in any way we could," Marchant said.
The experience was understandably traumatic for Marchant and those he was with. He said they are all supporting one another as they process what they saw.
"Just knowing that, I was, I was someone that was there with two individuals, you know, the last their last bit of time, it's something that impacted me and, you know, life can change instantly for a lot of people real fast," he said.
After this experience, he said he'll hold his friends and family a little closer. He hopes you will too.
"Spend a little bit more time telling people, you love them, you care about them, how much you care about him, you know, because you never know if you'll never get that opportunity again," Marchant said.
He also mentioned that he forgot to thank the two men on board the fishing boat that also rushed to the scene of the crash. He said they remained incredibly calm and helped him get through this experience. If anyone knows who those men are, he asked that they please pass that message along.