Two people feared dead after a plane crash in mountainous terrain Sept. 20 walked out alive
A plane carrying five U.S. Forest Service workers crashed near Mount Liebig in the Great Bear Wilderness, en route to the Schafer Meadows wilderness airstrip.
Area near where the plane crashed. David Reese photo/Montana Living
Law enforcement officials initially said all five people were killed, until Jodee Hogg and Matt Ramige emerged from the wilderness and flagged down a motorist on U.S. Highway 2 near Essex.
Even after crash investigators announced no one had survived, Jodee's twin sister, Kyna Hogg, said she knew her sister had indeed lived through the crash. "I knew it. I knew she was still alive," Kyna Hogg said. Hogg, Matt Ramige and Ken Good managed to escape the plane. Good had been pushed from the burning plane by pilot Jim Long. Hogg pulled Ramige from the wreckage. Long, 60, then died in the fire. The other passenger, Davita Bryant, 32, apparently died on impact.
Hogg, Ramige and Bryant were part of a Forest Service crew heading to Schafer Meadows; Good was a Forest Service electronics technician. After the crash on the remote mountain top, the survivors made a shelter out of the plane engine cowling, doors, the windshield, a part of the aircraft's tail. The three people made it through the night, but Good, 58, died the morning after the crash. "Having Ken there that night really helped us," Hogg said of the first night, when the crash site had been covered in snow.
"We used body heat to stay warm. Matt didn't have a shirt because his had been burned off. And so we kind of did like a Matt sandwich between Ken and I, and we just held onto each other all night, and talked and just hoped that they would come get us."
After Good died, Hogg and Ramige decided to leave the crash site through the Tunnel Creek drainage. They ended up hiking five miles in 29 hours, dropping some 2,500 feet in elevation before reaching U.S. 2 and help from passing motorists.
Hogg told ABC's Good Morning Today that during their hike out she and Ramige saw planes and helicopters searching for the wreckage. "Once we had dropped most of the elevation, we were in this field ... we actually saw the helicopters going to the wreckage," she said. Ramige suffered a spinal fracture and burns over 20 percent of his body on his hands, face and chest. The three people killed in the crash were among six Flathead Valley people killed in plane accidents in August and September.
On Aug. 29, two Kalispell men died when their Beech C35 single-engine airplane crashed into a residential home on the west side of Kalispell. On Aug. 17, a Beechcraft 99 crashed near Neihart, Mont., near the summit of Big Baldy Mountain. The crash killed both occupants. And on Sept. 4, Kalispell pilot Ryan Hoerner and a passenger died in southwest Alaska when their Piper Super Cub crashed in the tundra.
- Jim Mann