CARLSBAD — On July 4, a small plane crash-landed on Carlsbad State Beach, injuring a 12-year-old boy who was playing in the surf at about 3 p.m.
The pilot of the plane was towing a banner when the plane’s engine failed.
He dropped the banner and landed along the beach slightly in the water.
The plane hit the water and flipped over, hitting 12-year-old Nicholas Baer.
The pilot was uninjured. Baer was taken to Rady’s Children’s Hospital.
He had a three-inch cut in his forehead and a depressed skull fracture, although his neurosurgeon Dr. Hal Meltzer, M.D., said it was unclear whether or not he lost consciousness.
“He definitely was dazed and confused and doesn’t have an exact recollection of some events so that goes along with having a concussion,” Meltzer said.
On Saturday he underwent brain surgery to avoid getting an infection from the seawater and sand and to repair the fracture.
Meltzer expects him to make a full recovery.
“He has an unbelievable spirit. He’s extremely positive about things,” Meltzer said. “I would anticipate he will be able to return to all of his normal activities eventually.”
The crash was caught on camera by multiple beach-goers and shows the plane descending into the surf, where it hits the water and flips over.
His parents are thankful he’s OK and his father Bill Baer called it a “miracle.”
“Either way it was a miracle that it wasn’t more people that got hurt. It could’ve been much, much worse,” he said.
“We’re really pleased that the pilot was uninjured as well,” said Nicholas’ mother Janice Baer.
Janice said Nicholas went to the beach with friends for the Fourth of July holiday.
She received a confusing phone call about a plane going down from his friend’s mother.
“She continued by saying, ‘I think Nicholas got hurt,’ and I’m trying to connect the dots thinking ‘how does a plane accident have anything to do with my son?’” Janice said.
After the mother told her there was blood on his head, Janice said she dropped the phone and rushed to the beach with her husband.
They were able to go with Nicholas to the hospital.
Neurosurgeon Meltzer expects him to make a full recovery although he’ll have to lay low this summer.
He will attend the 7th grade at Valley Middle School in the fall.
Air Ads Inc. based in Gillespie Field owns the plane that went down.
The Federal Aviation Administration and The National Transportation Board are investigating the incident.
“I think his case is a once in a lifetime type of situation,” Meltzer said. “I don’t think any of us will see something like that again.”