EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — Currently, officials are investigating the crash of a small airplane in Luzerne County.
The plane went down in Bear Creek Township Sunday night. Two people were on board, a father and his 13-year daughter who both survived the crash.
Investigators say this is a story about survival and they say it’s a miracle a 58-year-old man and his 13-year-old daughter were able to “walk away from it.”
“The only reason it was God’s will, only way to explain, God’s presence. I can’t explain it. There had to be a higher being taking care of them,” said State Police Sergeant John Richards.
That was said over and over again Monday as federal investigators tried to determine what caused a Cessna 150 to crash into the woods in Bear Creek Township. Eyewitness News was there as search teams placed the 58-year-old man and his 13-year-old daughter into ambulances.
The Federal Aviation Administration says the aircraft was taking off from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport and heading back to its’ home base, the Pocono Mountains Municipal Airport at around 7:30 Sunday night when it disappeared from radar.
Search teams with the assistance of the U.S. Air Force were able to ping the signal from the girl’s iPad to pinpoint their location.
“We were in contact with the mother, she gave us as much information as she could. We were able to contact the provider, the carrier for the iPad. I believe they’re giving us the location to the United States Air Force. They were actually able to ping within 50 feet. I got to within 50 feet of the crash,” said Sergeant Richards.
Firefighters found them six hours after the crash occurred.
“You’re dealing with the woods, the swamps, the hills, rocks, boulders, you ‘re dealing with all kinds of terrain up here,” said Bear Creek Volunteer Hose Company Chief James Serafin.
The father was cuddling with his daughter to keep her warm. Firefighters put their coats on the pair to keep them warm.
“They were extremely hypothermic, they were in shock they had some medical injuries,” said Sergeant Richards.
Officials from the National Transportation Safety Board and the FAA arrived on the scene of the crash late Monday morning.
“This was a miracle. Those two individuals are very lucky,” said Chief Serafin.
The FAA put out an alert that the aircraft had not been heard from and there was no distress signal from the pilot.
“This was a monumental team effort. There was no stepping on toes. Everybody worked together…did it, that’s why it was successful,” said Sergeant Richards.
The aircraft was based at the Pocono Mountains Municipal Airport. Vern Moyer runs an aviation company and says the crash stunned the folks who work and fly out of the airport in Monroe County.
“Well, I would say a lot of credit to the aircraft and to the pilot. He did a great job of bringing the airplane down and they were able to walk away from it,” said Moyer.
Moyer, who has been in the aviation business for more than 60 years, says flying over the mountains of Bear Creek Township can be a challenge at any time, especially during inclement weather as was the case Sunday night.
“I would say quite challenging because not knowing what he went through but the fact that he kept the airplane flying as long as possible and they did survive says a lot about the pilot and the aircraft I would think,” explained Moyer.
The names of the father and daughter have not been officially released by investigators. State police say they suffered from hypothermia and other injuries but would survive those injuries.
The father and daughter are said to be from the Mount Pocono area. According to officials at the Pocono Mountains Municipal Airport, the aircraft is owned by the Pocono Mountains Flying Club.
Eyewitness News reached out to an official from the club he had no comment. The NTSB and FAA are investigating the cause of the crash.