Couple shares story of surviving Bear Lake plane crash
Tania Dean, KSL TV
SALT LAKE CITY (KSL TV) — A Draper couple said they feel lucky to be alive after their small plane crashed just feet before they could reach the runway.
Todd and Heidi Eldredge both broke their backs after their plane crashed in Bear Lake County, Idaho, on Saturday. The whole experience was surreal, but they said all they feel today is gratitude.
“We’re just very grateful we’re still here,” said Todd Eldredge.
He spoke to KSL-TV on Monday from his hospital room about the flight he won’t ever forget.
“I’ve had a few interesting incidents, but certainly never a crash landing before and hopefully never again,” said Eldredge.
The Eldredges were flying from Salt Lake City to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, on Saturday when the plane’s oil temperature started heating up.
He decided to head to the Bear Lake County Airport so they could stop and check it out, but then, more bad news.
“I was in the process of turning towards the airport and we lost our engine,” he said.
The plane glided for about 6 miles and the couple thought they’d make it, but about 75 feet before the runway, they realized they were going to crash.
“About 500 feet above ground, it was evident that we were not going to make it, so I told my wife I loved her,” said an emotional Eldredge. “I held her hand and told her to brace because this was going to be a rough one.”
The plane hit a 6-foot high berm and tore off the landing gear.
“We hit a fence post. I saw the windshield shatter and then we kind of just skidded,” he said.
They also lost a wing in the crash, but he said they were lucky to have landed in a marsh, surrounded by water.
“I had 40 gallons of of fuel onboard when we landed. It could’ve been an absolute disaster, and we had no fire,” he said.
Immediately after they crashed, people rushed to their aid.
The Eldredges were taken to a local hospital, but then brought back to the University of Utah Hospital.
They said from the time they crashed to the time they arrived home, there were dozens of people who helped them.
“You would’ve had to have been there to see how wonderful these people were,” he said.
They were grateful to everyone involved and they’re grateful to be alive and able to thank them.
“We were alive. First thing we did was held each other’s hands. I kissed her hand and said, ‘Hey, we’re OK,'” he said.
She was released from the hospital on Sunday, and he was expected to be released on Monday evening.
Both will be able to recover at home.