2 Local Men Lucky to Survive Frigid Alaskan Mountain Plane Crash
It's not something you hear about every day. Two Utica area men crash into a frigid Alaskan mountainside during a storm, in one of the most remote places in the country, near Mt. St. Elias, Alaska, according to AlaskaPublic.org.
62-year-old James Feola of Cassville and 62-year-old Fred Northup of Fairfield, both experienced pilots, crashed their Cessna 182 into the frigid mountainside "hard enough that one of its wings was gone, and their gear scattered across the mountainside."
“His last communication through the Garmin was, ‘Send rescue now, we will not make it through the night,’” Anne Northup said in a phone interview Monday Alaska Public. “I was preparing my family for the worst, she told the NPR station”
According to the National Park Service, "the two men took off from Talkeetna for Yakutat around 10:30 a.m. Saturday." About three-hours later, an international rescue coordination center was informed of a "rescue needed" message, but because of poor weather conditions, rescuers were unable fly to find the crash site. Meanwhile, there was a National Guard rescue team already in the area searching for stranded hikers, that spotted the crash site near a glacier on the north side of "Mount Hawkins — a rarely-climbed, 10,000-foot peak a little further than halfway along their route," according to the report.
It took rescuers all day Saturday and well into Sunday morning to make an attempt to land, but they were turned away multiple times because of the dangerous weather conditions. A second crew was blocked by poor weather through the day on Sunday and finally, early Monday morning, a third National Guard crew was able to fly in close enough to the two pilots, to hoist Feola and Northup up into their helicopter. In all, more than 30 National Guard troops participated in the nearly 2-day rescue effort.
"It's been very stressful and we're so relieved that both of them are okay and they have been rescued," Sara Northup-Lynch, the daughter of Fred Northup, told WIBX. "It was a very stressful 36-hours," she added.
Feola and Northup are both said to be safe with only minor injuries, according to the National Park Service. Family members, including Northup's wife Anne, are now in Alaska to meet up with the two local men, to bring them home to the Mohawk Valley.
Watch video of the crash site shot from the National Guard helicopter, showing "a pair of rocky peaks rising out of a vast, foggy expanse of glacier with deep crevasses."