A mother, who had been on board a plane that crash in a remote area of southwest Alaska, made a phone call to get help to resuscitate her baby who was five months of age. She then left the injured boy who died, to lead rescuers that were hampered by fog and cold back to the place where the plane had crashed.
Melanie Coffee walked almost a mile toward a group of lights to Saint Marys village to meet the rescuers on Friday night.
Fred Lamont Jr., a police officer in the village of Saint Marys called Coffee a hero. Lamont and dozens more responded from the surrounding villages to the site of the crash that killed four, while injuring six.
Saint Marys, as many other villages in Alaska, is not on the state’s road system. People use small planes regularly to arrive at regional hubs to catch yet another plane to reach Anchorage or other large cities.
A spokesperson for the Alaska State troopers, Megan Peters, said the aircraft was flying in freezing rain, with one mile of visibility and a ceiling of 300 feet.
The plane did not reach its destination crashing about four miles outside Saint Marys. Killed in the crash was Terry Hansen the pilot who was 68, Richard Polty 65, Rose Polty 57 and Wyatt Coffee five months.
Six survived the crash and ranged in age from 14 to 37. All were injured seriously and four were listed as critical.
Lamont, as well as being a police officer in the village, is also a health aide and was an ambulance driver Friday when the call from Melanie Coffee came in. She said the plane crashed and she needed medical assistance.
Lamont and another health aide went out to search for the crash location. Other officials started to make calls for responders.
Fog made it nearly impossible to search and the location of the crash site could not be immediately located.
Coffee, who in the crash suffered severe chest trauma, tried to whistle to alert searchers. She also thought of starting a fire, but then decided to walk toward the lights in the village.