Lifestyle & Human Interest

Father and 13-Year-Old Daughter Survive Plane Crash in Rural Area, Found Thanks to Daughter's iPad


While it’s true that there are many questionable features on personal electronic devices these days, and they can draw users into a pit of mindless scrolling, they definitely have their place and are an incredible modern convenience.

A cellphone and an iPad are the stars of this story, as they allowed first responders to locate two people in the woods who likely would have died of hypothermia if their devices hadn’t been with them.

Those two people were a father, 58, and daughter, 13, who took off from Pocono Mountains Municipal Airport on Sunday in a Cessna 150. They did a touch-and-go down at Wilkes-Barre Scranton International Airport and were headed back to Pocono when disaster struck.

The single-engine plane went down around 6:30 p.m., crashing into the woods on Bear Creek Township’s state game lands in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania.

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It was miraculous enough that the two survived the initial crash, but the cold threatened to claim them as they waited in the dark.

Around 8:40 p.m. Sunday night, the Federal Aviation Administration contacted the Pennsylvania State Police, saying the plane “had dropped off their radar after a rapid descent,” according to WNEP-TV. At first, authorities believed the plane to have landed somewhere in Monroe County.

The U.S. Air Force was able to tell the plane had gone down in Luzerne County, but no one knew exactly where. There was a lot of ground to cover, and rescuers had no idea what the condition was of the survivors — if there were any.

As the search went on, it started snowing, covering the terrain and already white plane in a dusting of white, making it impossible to use a drone to find the downed aircraft. Heat detectors didn’t work either, since the plane had cooled off and the father and daughter were drifting into a hypothermic state.

But thanks to the iPad, the Air Force was eventually able to home in on their exact location.

“With the help of the United States Air Force, they were able to track a better location on several pings,” Sgt. John G. Richards with the Pennsylvania State Police said, according to WYOU-TV.

“Actually using the cellphone of the pilot and his daughter’s iPad. And the iPad actually led us right to the crash site.”

The father and daughter had been huddled together for hours and hypothermia was closing in on them. When rescuers finally approached them early Monday morning, they expected the worst.

“The truth is I never expected to find two people alive, never expected that,” Richards admitted. “Thought this was going to be a fatal accident. In 28 years, any accident I’ve handled, this type, that’s what it’s turned out to be. Nobody was more surprised than when I looked at them in their eyes and they looked at me and start talking. Nobody was more surprised than me.

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“The daughter saves both of them by using her iPad, and dad was cuddling the daughter to give her warmth because they were both exposed to the elements and were suffering from hypothermia at the time.”

The two were taken to a hospital and treated for hypothermia and their current state is not known, but many people are hailing their survival and rescue a miracle.

“This, this was a miracle,” Bear Creek Volunteer Hose Company Chief James Serafin said. “You’re dealing with the woods, the swamps, the hills, rocks, boulders, I mean you’re dealing with all kinds of terrain up here.”

The FAA has since released a statement regarding the incident and its investigation into the cause of the crash.

“A single-engine Cessna 150 crashed in a wooded area southeast of Wilkes-Barre Scranton International Airport (AVP) in Avoca, Penn., Sunday evening,” the statement reads, according to WYOU. “Two people were on board.

“The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued an Alert Notice (ALNOT) shortly after 7:30 p.m. local time Sunday to public safety agencies to alert them about the missing aircraft. Local authorities found the aircraft at 2:03 a.m. local time today. The flight departed AVP for Pocono Mountains Municipal Airport in Tobyhanna, Penn. The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board will investigate.”

Richards has an explanation for their survival, though.

“The hands of God. I’m not trying to be you evasive of your question, but the only reason why those two were alive is because of God’s presence,” he said. “And the only way I can explain it is because there has to be a higher being that was taking care of them.”

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