Man details perilous rescue of pilot who went down in Rich County

Jan 25, 2023, 10:17 PM | Updated: 10:32 pm

RICH COUNTY, Utah — There is a lot of open space in the Wasatch-Cache National Forest in Rich County. Tuesday night, though, there wasn’t much time to search the area.

“The storm was kind of catching up to us, so visibility was shutting back in,” Luke Bowman said.

Bowman is a chief pilot for Utah’s Department of Public Safety.

He was flying the DPS helicopter over the Wasatch-Cache National Forest near Woodruff.

A small airplane had gone down in this area and Bowman’s team was trying to get to her.

“It was really remote,” he said. “We were happy to hear that she had made contact via text with someone and was able to relay her location.”

The problem was being able to get to where she was.

Search and rescue teams were on snowmobiles but were hours away in rugged terrain.

On his first route to get to her location, Bowman had to turn around east of Morgan because the canyon he was flying in was clouded due to snow and wind. A second attempt from the Croydon area near Lost Creek Reservoir also resulted in having to turn around because of bad weather.

“We were ready to call it and come home just because we didn’t want to push anything,” he said. “We have to be safe ourselves as much as possible.”

They got word the weather would be a little better if they approached from Evanston, then north to Woodruff, and east into the area near Monte Cristo.

But they had to be quick. Bad weather was coming fast.

“We had already talked about it as a crew that that was our last try,” Bowman said.

The third attempt worked.

One of the crew members captured the moment he was on the ground and helped the pilot into the DPS helicopter.

It was dark and temperatures were below freezing. However, once she was in, she was safe.

“It took us a couple of hours to get in and do the whole mission,” Bowman said.

The pilot didn’t want to be interviewed because she said her insurance company told her not to say anything to anybody.

However, she wanted search and rescue teams to know how much she appreciated them looking for her.

“We were surprised that she was in such good shape,” Bowman said. “It makes us feel good when we can help someone out.”

Investigators will be inspecting the plane to determine what happened.

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Man details perilous rescue of pilot who went down in Rich County