The Dreyer family is counting its blessings this New Year's Eve after surviving a plane crash in the Caribbean Sea while on vacation.
The four Dreyers, from Houston, were on board a Tropic Air flight from Belize City to San Pedro, a resort on the outlying island of Ambergris Cay, when the 14-seat plane went down in the Caribbean 2 ½ miles south of the island.
Lance Dreyer, his wife, Sharon, and their two children, Chase, 25, and Chelsea, 22, had taken the same 15-minute flight many times during the past seven years. Lance, an amateur pilot, said the family realized the plane was a little off course because they couldn't see the resort's lights from the windows. But they had no idea the plane was about to go down.
"None of us knew we were crashing," Lance, 62, told ABCNEWS' Good Morning America. "This was at night and it was raining out."
Sharon Dreyer, 56, said she was not prepared for any kind of impact.
"It was the scariest moment I've ever experienced in my life," she told Good Morning America. "All you want to do is just follow your instinct and get out of that plane. We didn't know we were in water until we got out."
The Dreyers and 10 other passengers, some of whom are close friends of the family, managed to get out of the Cessna Caravan. They then clung to the fuselage in the water as the rain poured down.
Chase, Chelsea and Sharon say Lance opened the rear door of the plane to let the passengers out. When he got into the water, he realized that it was only 8 feet deep and that the plane would not sink and that everyone would be safe.
The group was located relatively quickly since one of the passengers had a VHF radio to call for help and a global positioning system to nail down their exact location.
The Dreyers said this New Year's celebration will be the most meaningful yet. "We're going to celebrate that we're glad to be alive," Lance Dreyer said.
The family lost most of their carry-on items, but they learned after they were rescued that more than their lives had been spared. Their checked luggage had failed to make the flight and was still safe in Belize City.