Gulfport native saves pilot’s life after military exercise in Hawaii goes awry

Gulfport native saves pilot’s life after military exercise in Hawaii goes awry

HONOLULU, HI (WLOX) - Thousands of miles away, one Gulfport native made waves as he helped save a man’s life.

Mack Ladner graduated from Gulfport High School and played Soccer for Pearl River Community College. In January of 2016, he moved across the Pacific, thousands of miles away, to the island state of Hawaii.

Once there, Ladner got a job at X-treme Parasail, and it was during an afternoon shift this week, when his entire boat witnessed a military exercise go dramatically wrong.

“He came in low and then we heard a boom and then ejected out of the top of it.” Ladner said.

The man piloting the plane was Navy veteran Matthew Pothier. He broke his back in the accident and, luckily for him, Ladner dived in without hesitation to help the injured veteran.

“He landed in the water and he was all tangled up with this insane amount of gear on,” Ladner said.

The Gulfport native was quick to credit his family and the Mississippi Gulf Coast for shaping who he is and helping push him to always do the right thing.

“I wouldn’t be the person I am today without being raised from the Gulf Coast," he said.

Although scary, an unlikely friendship has sprouted from the incident.

“I got a new lifelong friend in Matthew and his family,” Ladner said.

Ladner met his new friend in the hospital on Friday after his surgery, and Pothier and his family are extremly grateful for his heroics.

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