Press-Republican

Local News

February 23, 2013

Despite confused coordinates, crash victims rescued

3 men uninjured at spotwhere their plane landed

RAY BROOK — Three men who survived a plane crash in the High Peaks wilderness Thursday evening were rescued by rangers who reached them by snowmobile and snowshoes.

But some confusion over their location complicated the effort.

Michael Oster, 54; Jeff O’Connor, 58; and Frank Dombroski, 51; all from Westfield, N.J., were flying in a Vans RV-10 amateur-built aircraft when they were forced to make an emergency landing just after 6:30 p.m. Thursday.

Uninjured, they called 911 and reached Ray Brook dispatch, and State Police requested help from State Department of Environmental Conservation forest rangers.

The callers gave Global Positioning Satellite coordinates that indicated the plane was near the summit of Nye Mountain, a trail-less High Peak just west of the Adirondack Loj in the Town of North Elba, DEC spokesman Dave Winchell said in an email Friday morning.

“State Police dispatched aviation resources, but the helicopter advised at 7:35 p.m. that, due to weather and darkness, they were returning to Lake Clear Airport. (So) six forest rangers responded from the Last Chance Ranch with snowmobiles and cold-weather gear.”

TARP SHELTER

Two DEC forest rangers initially left from the Mount Jo Trailhead on Adirondack Loj Road and headed toward what they thought was the crash site on snowshoes, carrying cold-weather gear for the victims, Winchell said. 

A second team of four forest rangers started out a short time later with evacuation equipment.

“The three male subjects in the plane kept in touch with responders and appeared to be uninjured,” Winchell said. “The subjects erected a tarp as a temporary shelter, put on extra clothing and appeared to be cold but stable.”

NEW CRASH SITE

At 10:50 p.m., the rangers concluded that the Nye Mountain location was not correct. 

“Initial location information given to Essex County by the subjects was misinterpreted — the subjects only had Phase 1 cell-phones without GPS and gave their own GPS coordinates to the county in an unfamiliar format,” Winchell said in the email.

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