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TEAM COVERAGE: Former first responder got I-75 plane crash survivors to safety

Sheri Rapisarda, former Collier first responder
Posted at 7:56 PM, Feb 11, 2024

NAPLES, Fla. — After a deadly plane crash took the lives of the two pilots on Friday, February 9, 2024, one Naples woman sprang into action to save the other 3 people on board. Her name is Sheri Rapisarda, a former Collier county paramedic.

"I thought it was first kind of thought it was a bad structure fire," said Rapisarda. "I didn't immediately put together that it was the very low-flying aircraft that I had seen just very few seconds prior.”

"We're not going to make the runway": Final radio transmissions from pilot in I-75 plane crash

Rapisarda was on her way to work Friday afternoon when she saw the private jet crash land on the southbound side of I-75. She says, without hesitation, she jumped out of her car and went to help the people who were running away from the burning plane.

Video shows survivors fleeing wreckage of downed plane on I-75

"I just knew that the plane had the ability to explode and I just wanted to get them in my car and get them away from the area as fast as possible," said Rapisarda. "I just relied on my training and my instinct to kick in at that moment, and it did. It just did. I just acted. I don't really recall thinking I just acted.”

Rapisarda says she checked all three out and once she realized they were okay physically, she took them to her car. Her phone was still on, that is when she found out about the heroic acts of the pilots.

“The pilots are heroes that the flight attendant, she's a hero because she saved the lives of those passengers that day the pilot saved the lives of everyone that day," said Rapisarda. "I just happened to be driving by and I just was able to be the little calmness that everyone needed once they got out, and was just a little voice of reason just to say 'Hey, come to me.'"

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