Two Thought Dead In Montana Mishap Walk Out Of The Woods
When Flathead County (MT) Sheriff
Jim Dupont saw the crash scene, he figured no one could have gotten
out alive. A Cessna 206 had gone down in rough weather not far from
the town of Kalispell. On board were the pilot and four Forest
Service workers. Dupont called a news conference and said all five
aboard had been killed.
So, imagine his surprise when Jodee Hogg, 23, of Billings (MT),
and Matthew Ramige, 29, of Jackson Hole (WY), walked out of the
woods and along a highway 48 hours later.
"It's just an unbelievable miracle," said Dupont. On Tuesday, he
had announced all five people on board the Cessna died in the
crash. "You look at that crash site, that wreckage, you'd never
believe anyone could have survived."
The 206, chartered by the Forest Service, was last heard from
about 15 minutes after it took off near the Glacier National Park.
On board were Hogg, Ramige, pilot Jim Long, 60, of Kalispell;
Davita Bryant, 32, a Forest Service worker from Whitefish (MT); and
Ken Good, 58, a Flathead forest employee also from Whitefish.
Bow hunters reported hearing a low-flying aircraft's engine
suddenly stopped. A work crew later spotted what looked like
wreckage above the treeline on a mountain in the Flathead
SAR teams were choppered into the site Tuesday afternoon. They
found a grisly scene.
"That airplane went from more than 100 miles per hour to zero in
less than 40 feet," Dupont said. "Who can survive that?"
Dupont called the post-crash fire "an unbelievably hot fire that
literally melted everything.... The entire fuselage was gone. "The
bottom of the aircraft actually melted away. You could look right
in. It was melted to nothing."
In fact, the fire was so intense that, while the recovery team
could tell there were human remains inside the wreckage, they
couldn't identify any individual.
"We were looking for bone fragments and teeth," Dupont told the
Missoula Missoulian newspaper. "We had a lot of very experienced
people up there, and no one even remotely imagined survivors."
Wednesday afternoon, Dupont was sifting through the rubble at
the crash site when his helicopter support truck passed by a couple
of people on the side of the road.
"They're just driving down the road," Dupont said, "and here's
these two people standing there. They looked pretty raggedy, so
they stopped and asked if they needed help. And they say, 'Yeah. We
were in a plane crash.'"
How Hogg and Ramige survived is still a mystery to Dupont. As
far as he knows, they simply extricated themselves from the
smoldering wreckage and walked into the woods.
"I've been at this a whole lot of years," Dupont told the
Missoulian, "and I can honestly say I've never seen anything like
it. It's as close to a miracle as it gets."
Family members of the two young survivors agreed wholeheartedly.
"You can't believe the elation," said Jim Hogg, Jodee's father.
Jodee was hospitalized in stable condition. Ramige, however, was
being treated in an intensive care unit, in serious condition. His
mother, Dr. Wendy Becker, visited her son at the hospital, where he
was taken for burns.
"I still can't believe it. I can see that he's alive now," she
told KOMO-TV in a report posted on its Web site Thursday.
"Can you imagine these families?" asked Bob Bryant,
father-in-law of victim Davita Bryant, who died in the accident.
"They've been told their kids are dead. And now they are