A California family of three awaited rescue for 15 hours after its small Cessna crashed into trees in the snowy mountains of Idaho over the Memorial Day weekend.
The plane was piloted by Brian Brown, a firefighter, who was flying with his wife, Jayann Brown, and adult daughter from their home in Wilton, Calif., to Mountain Home, Idaho, when the plane went down around 9 p.m. Saturday. One of the family members got a signal on a cell phone early Sunday morning and called for help, saying that they had all survived but had suffered head and back injuries.
The Idaho National Guard dispatched a medical helicopter to locate the downed plane, but heavy snow and white-out conditions prevented the medical chopper from making a rescue, according to Col. Tim Marsano of the National Guard. Rescuers on foot hiked through 6-foot snowdrifts to reach the crash site, and then started a fire and wrapped the family in blankets while awaiting an airlift, he said.
The three survivors were finally flown by helicopter to a medical center one at a time between 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. Sunday, more than 15 hours after their plane had gone down. They were all treated and listed in stable condition.
"It was inhospitable for a landing," Col. Tim Marsano of the Idaho National Guard told the Associated Press. "The use of the helicopter was indispensable for this type of rescue operation."
Brian Brown, part of the Cosumnes Community Services District Fire Department in Elk Grove, Calif., is an experienced pilot and rescuer, according to fire chief Tom Dark.
"Knowing what a good pilot he is, something had to have happened," Dark told the AP.