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Heber Family Survives Emergency Landing Of Plane In Western Wyoming


A Heber city man had to make an emergency landing in Wyoming on Monday after his plane ran out of fuel.

Heber resident Eric Holt, his wife Dana Holt, their two-year-old twins and newborn baby were traveling from Nebraska back to Heber when their single-prop-engine-fixed wing plane ran out of fuel. The plane had refueled in Ogallala, Nebraska and planned to refuel in Rock Springs, Wyoming but a strong headwind meant the plane ran out of fuel a few miles away from the Rock Springs airport. Corporal Jason Mower of Sweetwater County explains what happened next.

“At around 5:30 pm while flying at an altitude of approximately 8,500 feet the planes engine began to sputter.” Mower explained, “He attempted to switch fuel tanks. There was no fuel left. The plane’s engine died, and he immediately initiated emergency landing procedures.”

Holt looked for a flat spot and made the landing.

“He just identified a flat area in the snow which is kind of scary.” Mower continued, “Knowing the terrain out there, there could be deep drainage ditches that if there’s snow on the ground I imagine they’d be hard to identify hard from the air until you got down closer to the ground. He was an experienced pilot, did a great job from what we understand. Little bit of luck involved, he actually credited the snow on the ground for cushioning the landing a little bit so that no one was injured and his plane didn’t sustain any damage.”

After the landing the family was then stranded in freezing temperatures. The Sweetwater Sheriff’s Department was able to locate the family and begin plans for a rescue, but terrain and snow meant it could take several hours. An Intermountain Life Flight helicopter in the area offered help and was able to rescue all five members of the family about three hours after the landing. The family was taken to a hospital for evaluation.

“Everyone was fine, they were just cold.” Mower said, “I think they were released later that evening. We helped them make some alternative travel arrangements so that they could get back to Heber. I know that when everyone caught their breath while at the hospital realized that the car seats were still in the airplane. So one of our deputies reached out to our friends at Sweetwater County Fire District #1 and was able to obtain some car seats to provide to the family so that they could make their rest of the way home.”

Corporal Mower said the department was pleased that this story had a happy ending.

“We deal with downed aircraft.” Mower explained, “It’s not uncommon, we deal with it a couple times a year around here. Unfortunately, it’s usually a crashed aircraft that people don’t usually survive. So, it’s a pretty remarkable situation just so many different things went right at the right time. Nice to see it through to a positive conclusion for a change.”

You can find a link to their GoFundMe page here.

KPCW reporter David Boyle covers all things in the Heber Valley as well as sports and breaking news.
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