A dramatic scene was caught on camera Wednesday when a military jet plunged into the ocean. The pilot, a Massachusetts native, ejected just before the crash in the waters off Oahu, Hawaii.
That pilot is 47-year-old Matt Pothier, an Andover native and a retired U.S. navy pilot who has flown more than 100 combat missions and been deployed seven times.
"The first time I saw it, it was shocking," said Pothier's mom, Elaine Regan.
The pilot's parents spoke to NBC10 Boston from North Reading.
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"It's very unnerving to see your son's plane crashing and him ejecting," said his dad, Bob Pothier.
In the moments following, time stood still for them.
"You stop breathing, you know, and you can't function until you hear more," said Regan.
Matt Pothier, who now lives in Hawaii with his wife and two children, had been participating in a military exercise called "Sentry Olaha."
A boat circling the wreckage called out to see if he was still alive. Pothier was then rescued by a parasailer.
Right now, it's unclear why the jet slammed into the ocean, but Pothier told rescuers his engines "went out" before he went down.
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His dad says he had about 15 seconds to react.
Because Pothier ejected so close to the water, he remains hospitalized with some serious back injuries.
Both parents are proud of their son, praying for a quick recovery. They say even from his hospital bed, he's still as calm as ever.
"He laughed, and he said, 'Mom, I'm all right,'" Regan said.
It's not clear when Pothier will get out of the hospital. He's already standing and has started his occupational therapy, and when he does get better, his family in New England will be heading out to Hawaii to see him.