By Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily
A plane holding two people crash-landed onto a highway near Medicine Bow, Wyoming, Monday morning and skidded off the road. Both occupants survived the initial impact, according to a man who stopped to help them.
The crash victims’ status Tuesday morning is unknown, however.
‘Debris Showered Their Car’
Chris Williams along with his wife, children and nephews were driving on Highway 30 to Rock River for a family fishing trip at about 10 a.m. Monday morning. Williams drove his Toyota Tundra with his wife, two of his sons and a nephew, while Williams’ other nephew Chet Williams – a sophomore in high school – drove a Honda CRV just behind them.
A plane crashed between the two vehicles, Chris Williams told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday morning.
“(The teens in the Honda) saw it out of the left of the windshield,” he said. “This thing comes down and BOOM – they heard it hit. There was a big dust cloud, and then that plane just bounced up and hit over near the fence.”
Debris from the crash hit the Honda in which Chet Williams drove his two cousins, Fisher and Elizabeth Williams.
The plane was seconds away from hitting the Honda, said Chris Williams.
“Debris showered their car,” he said.
But in the Toyota with his wife and the other kids, Chris Williams didn’t see the crash for himself.
“You just don’t look right up above your car, so we didn’t see them,” he said. As a father and uncle leading the fishing trip, however, he had been checking his rearview mirror often to make sure “the kids” were still close behind. When he lost sight of the Honda, Chris Williams pulled over, then turned around. He soon found the wrecked plane.
The female passenger had crawled out of the plane and was conscious and cognizant, said Chris Williams, noting that his daughter Elizabeth stayed by the woman’s side. But the pilot was stuck partially in the cockpit, trapped under what was left of the plane.
“I couldn’t tell what was what on the airplane, really,” said Williams. Members of the Williams family and other travelers tried to lift the wreckage off the man. Over the course of the next few minutes, enough passersby stopped to help and the group was able to free the male pilot from the plane’s body before paramedics arrived.
Chris Williams’ wife, Kate, and another woman helped to pull the man out while several others lifted the hulk off him.
It took an ambulance roughly half an hour to reach the scene, estimated Williams, adding that it was difficult to mark the time because, “In situations like that, time kind of stands still.”
Many people stopped to help during that half hour, he said, including a woman who had reportedly worked as a paramedic in Iraq. Williams did not catch the woman’s name.
“She seemed to know what was going on, and to have a lot of experience,” he said.
The male pilot and female passenger, a married couple who could have been about 60, told their rescuers that they had been planning to celebrate their 26th anniversary on Tuesday, Williams said.
‘Quieter Than Usual’
An ambulance arrived for the pair.
A helicopter also arrived moments later, but the man, with several obviously broken bones, was still in the ambulance when the Williams family left the scene, said Williams.
The family fishing trip was quieter than usual, he added.
“(The teens) were kind of in disbelief,” Williams said. “They’re just trying to rationalize it.”
Williams said he is anxious to know how the couple is doing.
The Carbon County Coroner’s office on Tuesday confirmed to Cowboy State Daily that it knew of the wreck and that the crash victims had been taken to a hospital, but said the coroner’s office was not called to respond following the plane crash.
Coroners are generally only called to respond when a fatality occurs.
The Wyoming Highway Patrol and Carbon County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately respond to voicemails requesting comment.