Hillsborough woman receives award for helping pilot following crash

By Melissa Eichman, Reporter
Last Updated: Wednesday, December 06, 2017, 5:24 PM EST

A Hillsborough County resident who rushed to aid the pilot of a crashed experimental aircraft earlier in 2017 was honored Wednesday with a Citizen Award.

When an experimental helicopter crashed into a roof in an Odessa neighborhood in September, Ryan Wendt ran to help.

"The pilot was definitely in trouble," Wendt said. "There was smoke coming out of the engine."

But Wendt had to get to the roof first. Two other witnesses helped make that happen.

"They put me up onto the air handler and told me I was going to be lifted up like a cheerleader,” said Wendt. “So, I stuck my feet into their hands and they hoisted me up onto the roof."

Hillsborough County Fire Rescue crews on the scene of a helicopter crash on top of an Odessa home, Monday, Sept. 25, 2017. (Photo courtesy of Hillsborough County Fire Rescue)

Wendt told us from there what she learned in the athletic training program at USF kicked in.

"There were some scary moments up there, and he did stop breathing at one point," Wendt explained. "But I did get him to stay alert with me until the EMT's came, worked with them until they relieved me."

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office recognized Wendt on Dec. 6 with a Citizen Award. Wendt said she was honored.

"I really didn't expect it," she said. "I was just there when somebody needed help."