February 17, 1996 in City

Plane Crash Survivor Takes It Step By Step Paramedic Slowly Recovering Physically, Emotionally

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Harold Livingston walked a bit this week, a few short strides with the help of a walker.

They were the first steps he’s taken since rescuers pulled him from the burning wreckage of an air ambulance that crashed near Spokane last month.

The 24-year-old paramedic said that it was good to walk again.

But, he said, there are a lot more steps to take - both physically and emotionally - before he can fully recover from the wreck that left three others dead.

“I’m doing good,” Livingston said by telephone from Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center on Friday. “I’m getting stronger.

“But being that I was the only one that survived, that’s going to be a major thing for me to deal with. It’s going to be a long, hard recovery.”

Livingston, of Finley, Wash., said two of the people who died when the Cessna 401 plowed into a metal building Jan. 8 near Spokane International Airport were good friends of his.

Pilot David Brooks and registered nurse Vicki Collman were almost like family, he said. “I was close to those guys. We’d worked together a long time,” he said.

Patient Linda Fritts also died.

Livingston said the moments after the plane went down were horrific - especially the noise as the plane’s fuel tanks exploded into flames.

“It was so noisy,” he said. “I wanted out of there pretty bad.”

Livingston was burned over 40 percent of his body and suffered two serious knee injuries.

He was in intensive care for a month and just recently began getting a good night’s sleep.

Hospital officials upgraded his condition from serious to satisfactory Thursday. Livingston hopes to be released in a week or 10 days.

The cause of the crash is still unknown.

Livingston said it will be some time before he’s able to talk about the accident. He said he doesn’t remember much, and “right now, I don’t even want to know.”

He said he plans to move into his parents’ house in Finley after he’s released from the hospital to continue healing and consider his future.

Livingston said he’s considering going back to work as a paramedic. “My orthopedic surgeon says there’s no reason I can’t.”

If he does go back to paramedic work, it’ll be strictly on the ground.

“I don’t know if I’ll ever fly again,” he said.

, DataTimes


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