Plane Crash Strands Family for 15 Hours

PHOTO: Brian Brown, wife Jayann Brown, and adult daughter being rescued after their small Cessna plane crashed into trees in the snowy mountains of Idaho.PlayCourtesy Idaho National Guard
WATCH Idaho Plane Crash: Family Saved 15 Hours Later

Hours after their plane crashed on a snowy mountainside in Idaho, a California fireman, his wife and their daughter were contacted by their other daughter via a cellphone located in the wreckage.

Brian and Jayann Brown's daughter was calling from their home in Wilton, Calif., worried that her family's small Cessna plane was long overdue Saturday.

"We missed the call by trying to find the cellphone but it helped us locate it and we realized it had a very weak signal and my youngest daughter [who was on the plane] tried to call 911 and had a successful attempt," Brian Brown said.

All three were seriously injured with head and neck injuries and endured frigid temperatures. "We came from California and we were dressed for summer," he said. We weren't really expecting to be in any kind of real winter conditions."

Heavy snow and white-out conditions prevented the medical chopper from making a rescue to the crash site in Mountain Home, Idaho, 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.

"I couldn't say enough for all the people that were involved in getting us out of there. Huge thanks from my entire family," Bower said. "They did an incredible job and people from Boise and Nappa and anywhere in Idaho should be very proud of the agencies they have protecting them because they were absolutely incredible."

Brian, Jayann and Heather are out of the hospital and Brian -- a firefighter in California -- is normally the one doing the rescuing, but now says he knows what it's like to be on the other side.