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Two rescued after Rainy Pass plane crash

Posted: February 18, 2013 - 9:45pm

ANCHORAGE (AP) — Operators of an Alaska lodge ran to help two people after their small plane stalled and crashed in a scenic mountain pass northwest of Anchorage.

One of those injured Sunday afternoon was a well-known Anchorage lawyer. The other was a man who planned to race in this year’s 2,000-mile Iron Dog snowmobile race but withdrew before the race start on Sunday morning because of injury.

The Rainy Pass Lodge is run by the Perrins family, who reported that the Cessna 170B airplane, which was following the snowmobile race route, took off Sunday afternoon in windy weather and stalled and crashed while making a sharp turn at the end of Puntilla Lake by the lodge.

People at the lodge who saw the crash rushed to the scene and helped remove Jason Wichman, 31, who had planned to run in the race, and Robert Stone, 44, from the plane. Stone, an attorney, was flying the single-engine plane, according to KTUU-TV.

The Alaska National Guard said there was an emergency medical technician at the lodge who provided aid.

Alaska National Guard rescue squadrons were notified and members headed to Rainy Pass aboard a HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter, arriving more than an hour after the plane’s emergency beacon indicated that it may have crashed.

“We were in contact with the Perrins family at the lodge and learned they had an EMT providing on-scene CPR because one of the victims was unconscious,” said Senior Master Sgt. Robert Carte, superintendent, 11th Air Force Rescue Coordination Center.

“They also helped clear an area for us, so the HH-60 had a place to land near the crash site.”

Stone and Wichman were loaded onto the Pave Hawk helicopter and flown to Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage. The Rainy Pass Lodge is about 125 miles northwest of Anchorage.

Wichman was in critical condition Monday, said Providence spokeswoman Crystal Bailey. She said Stone did not show up on the hospital roster, but she said that could be the case if family had requested no information be provided. A check of two other main hospitals in Anchorage indicated that he had not been brought to those facilities.

Both victims suffered serious head injuries in the crash, officials said.

The Iron Dog, described as the world’s longest snowmobile race, began Sunday in Big Lake. Racers go from the town of Big Lake, north of Anchorage, to Nome and then to the finish in Fairbanks.

There are 39 teams participating in the race.

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