Angela is a sweet 13 year old girl with Down syndrome born to loving parents, Chris and Sharon. She is the fourth child, the youngest of her siblings. Chris is a small business owner, and Sharon is a teacher. Chris is a dedicated father who had a lifelong dream of obtaining his private pilot license, but this was deferred for decades to his duties to provide for and raise his family. Finally, in his 50s, Chris’s dream was realized, and he finally earned his pilot license. He enjoyed taking Angela on flights over the Poconos on Sunday afternoons, giving Sharon the opportunity to finish her class lesson plans for the upcoming week.
On Sunday, November 14, 2021, Chris and Angela left for another flight in a Cessna 150 airplane around 4:30pm. Chris was using an iPad for his flight program, and was using a transponder to maintain communication of their flight status with the local air traffic control tower. They typically return home around 7:30pm, but Sharon became worried when 8:30pm and then 9:00pm arrived and she had not heard from Chris. She tried calling, but with no answer. She drove to the airport to find Chris’s truck still parked there, covered with a half inch of snow, and no plane in sight. It was then she knew something was terribly wrong. She called 911, and the dispatcher was able to connect with the air traffic controller, who had noticed that Chris’s plane had previously dropped off the radar. They were able to trace the transponder’s path, determine the approximate trajectory of the plane, and conclude that it had crashed in state forest lands in a heavily wooded area. Chris does not remember the crash, but the plane was found in the forest. It had been piloted between two trees, damaging the wings but allowing the passenger compartment to remain intact. Chris’s phone was lost in the wreckage, but the iPad used for the flight program was with them. The US Air Force search and rescue operation was able to ping the iPad from a local tower and determine their location. Chris and Angela were found still in the cockpit, huddled together for warmth. The temperature had decreased to 37 degrees Fahrenheit, and they were described by rescuers as “pre-hypothermic”.
Chris and Angela were taken to the hospital by rescuers, injured and cold but miraculously alive. Ten minutes before arrival to the ER, it was discovered that Angela was no longer able to move her legs. She underwent a thorough evaluation and was found to have a skull fracture, small amount of bleeding on the brain, an aortic injury with right sided hemothorax, T12 vertebral compression fracture with compression of the spinal cord, and chemical versus thermal burns to her left posterior thigh and both lower legs. She was intubated and placed on a ventilator. A chest tube was placed in the right chest to release the blood, and she was flown by helicopter to Geisinger Medical Center in Danville for further care. She had additional imaging performed and is undergoing spine decompression surgery and fusion from T8-L3 on November 16.
Chris was evaluated and found to have multiple fractures and a concussion, but no apparent life threatening injuries. We will create a separate site to follow his progress.
Here are some links to media stories covering the initial story:https://www.wnep.com/article/news/local/luzerne-county/officials-searching-for-small-plane-crash-luzerne-county-bear-creek-township-father-daughter/523-b87dbc63-68b8-424f-93ca-be6d57d212a3https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/ipad-phone-gps-helps-find-father-daughter-plane-crash-survivors-pennsy-rcna5636