Young Children Among Those Rescued From Airplane in SW Wyoming
A newborn infant and a pair of two-year-old twins were among the five people rescued after a single-engine plane made an emergency landing in a snow-covered field near Rock Springs on Monday.
No injuries were reported and the plane was not damaged during the landing.
The aircraft, a Piper Archer, landed at roughly 6:30 p.m. some three miles southeast of Southwest Wyoming Regional Airport. Deputies had to use a helicopter to respond to the landing site and retrieve the family which had been aboard the plane.
That operation took roughly two and a half hours and was hampered by winter conditions, frigid temperatures and an estimated wind chill value well below zero.
The pilot, who was not named in a statement from the Sweetwater County Sheriff's Office, had been flying from Wayne, Nebraska to his home in Heber, Utah with his wife and three children aboard.
Having refueled in Ogallala, Nebraska, the pilot had intended to refuel again in Rock Springs. He reported encountering a strong, unexpected headwind between Rawlins and Rock Springs which left the plane without enough fuel to reach the airport.
At roughly 5:30 p.m., while at an altitude of roughly 8,500 feet, the plane's engine sputtered and died. The pilot began working on an emergency landing.
Deputies located the plane via GPS coordinates and, after determining that any rescue attempt via tracked vehicle would take several hours, a nearby Intermountain Life Flight helicopter was diverted to assist.
The crew successfully evacuated all five people from the landing site at roughly 8:45 p.m. They were taken to Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County for evaluation.
"The dedication, diligence and selflessness of our deputies and staff is humbling," Sheriff John Gossnickle said in a statement Tuesday morning. "We could not have done it alone."