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Sun, Jun 04, 2023

First Responder Recounts Bizarre Utah Aircraft Mishap

Walking Away, James Gang-Style

Speaking to the subject of a Sunday, 28 May 2023 call received by Washington County, Utah’s Enterprise Fire and EMS, Deputy Chief Jeff Germain stated: “They [onlookers] witnessed the aircraft come over them and lose altitude, and then crash over the side of the mountain.”

The mountain to which the Deputy Chief referred was Flat Top Mountain, a 10,624-foot peak some 22-nautical-miles southwest of Salt Lake City. With a prominence of approximately 5,370-feet, Flat Top Mountain is the sixth most prominent peak in Utah and the highest point of the Oquirrh Mountains

At once ignorant of the number and condition of the persons aboard the downed aircraft and fearful a post-impact blaze would touch off a wildfire, Deputy Chief Germain’s department dispatched local fire and EMS personnel and the county’s wetland firefighting crew. To better hedge its bets and cover its peoples’ butts, the Washington County Sheriff’s Department called in a Search And Rescue (SAR) helicopter from nearby Cedar City.

As the emergency responders headed out, the Sheriff’s Department dispatchers received an alert of a Utility Terrain Vehicle (UTV) rollover in the suspected vicinity of the downed aircraft. Subject report was later determined to have been a 360 Alert initiated by a smartwatch worn by the pilot of the accident aircraft.

Deputy Chief Germain explained 360 Alerts most often result in contact being established with the individual wearing the watch—who subsequently advises responders of the prevailing emergency’s nature and the circumstances by which it was occasioned.

Deputy Chief Germain remarked: “That just really put us in, like, ‘Where are we going? And what are we expecting when we get there?'”

Emergency responders were shocked to arrive on-scene and find the pilot hiking downhill, seemingly unharmed, from the accident aircraft—which lie overturned in trees and brush.

The pilot, who turned out to be the accident aircraft’s only occupant, reported to firefighters that he’d only just acquired the plane and was ferrying it home.

Deputy Chief Germain recounted: “He had purchased the plane that day—that’s what we were told from him—and he took off from a dirt airstrip about three-miles down the canyon, and when he got up, he had some resistance with some wind. It resulted in his crashing of the aircraft.”

The pilot, who refused medical attention, was escorted to a police vehicle by bemused officers who went on pressing him for details.

Deputy Chief Germain confided: “Within a couple of minutes, we turned around, and he had left the scene of the crash. And at that point, we turned it over to the local authorities because we were really confused to why somebody would leave the scene of an airplane crash. It just doesn’t make sense.”

A local television outlet reached out to the accident aircraft’s registered owner and succeeded in contacting a person who identified himself as an immediate family member thereof. The individual disclosed the pilot had, in truth, owned the aircraft for some time. What’s more, the ostensible family member reported the pilot had walked away unhurt, and had no further comment pertaining to the matter.

Data gleaned from online tracking revealed the accident aircraft had departed Las Vegas.

Deputy Chief Germain remains unsure what to make of the incident, stating: “It was just a very bizarre turn of events.”

Of the pilot, Germain opined: “At the end of the day, we’re glad he actually is alive.”

The Washington County Sheriff’s Office reported the crash is being investigated by federal authorities.



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