BOISE, Idaho - Hours after their plane crashed on a steep and snowy mountainside in Idaho, a California firefighter, his wife, and their daughter were airlifted to safety by National Guard rescuers.
The family was en route from California to Mountain Home, Idaho, when their Cessna 172 went down Saturday night, leaving them with head and back injuries, officials said.
One of them used a cellphone just after midnight to report that they had survived the crash.
A medical helicopter located the wreckage Sunday morning, but whiteout conditions prevented the aircraft crew from carrying out an immediate rescue, said Colonel Tim Marsano of the Idaho National Guard.
Rescuers who walked through 6-foot snowdrifts and on 60-degree slopes reached the crash site first. They wrapped the family members in blankets and built a fire until a military helicopter could lift them out with a hoist.
“It was inhospitable for a landing,’’ Marsano said. “The use of the helicopter was indispensable for this type of rescue operation.’’
The three were flown one at a time to a landing area about a half-mile from War Eagle Mountain in southwest Idaho’s Owyhee County. They were later flown to Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise, where they remain in stable condition Monday.
It is unclear what caused the Cessna to go down. Photos taken by rescuers showed significant damage, including a broken front windshield.
Authorities identified the family as Brian Brown of Wilton, Calif., his wife Jayann, and their adult daughter, whose name was not immediately available.