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Downed pilot was veteran, firefighter
Gautreau mug copy
Arthur Gautreau - photo by Photo provided.
Richmond Hill pilot and Bryan County volunteer firefighter Arthur Gautreau, 77, died Saturday after apparently crashing his vintage airplane in Savannah.
According to a press release from the Savannah-Chatham Metro Police Department, Gautreau took off from a private Savannah airfield in his 1946 Luscombe Aircraft around 9:30 a.m. Friday. A police search reportedly began around 7 p.m. after receiving a call informing them of his disappearance.
“The destination was originally believed to be Ossabaw Island,” the release said. “CEMA and the Tybee Coastguard began an initial search and SCMPD took a missing person report.”
A search by air continued until SCMPD’s Eagle One helicopter spotted the down plane in a pond off of Hwy. 204, in the Georgetown area. A dive from the SCMPD underwater team resulted in Gautreau’s body being pulled from the wreckage and identified just before 1 p.m. Saturday, according to the release.
“He was a wonderful man,” said Ula Gautreau, his wife of 44 years. “And I’m not the only one that thinks so; people have been calling from all over the country to pay their respects … He was a great family man who took care of us all.”
Gautreau leaves behind five children, eight grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
Gautreau flew in the Korean War while in the U.S. Army and his hobby was flying vintage airplanes, with over 30 years of experience under his belt.
He and his brother Robert Gautreau ran Rent-A-Tool in Savannah for over 35 years.
Geautreau was a former member of the Bryan County Sheriff’s Department and was an active member of the South Bryan Volunteer Fire Department.
County Administrator Phil Jones said Gautreau was a dedicated public citizen who cared about his county. He said Gautreau volunteered his time training up and coming firefighters.
“Art was a great guy, with a great personality, who loved working with people,” Jones said. “He will be dearly missed.”
The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are currently investigating as to determine what went wrong during Gautreau’s flight.
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