Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Small plane crashes into Snake River

By Eric Barker Lewiston Tribune

LEWISTON, Idaho – Dwayne Paris credits the quick action of boaters on the Snake River for saving a pair of plane crash victims Saturday.

The timely help from nearby residents, along with cooperation among first responders, made the rest of the rescue operation seamless.

“It was the way things should work in a rural community,” he said.

Paris, a captain with the City of Asotin Volunteer Fire Department, said a small, single-engine plane traveling from Boise to Lewiston clipped a power line around the 35000 block of Snake River Road around noon and crashed into the river.

“They were able to self-extricate as the plane was going down and a couple of boaters stopped and actually fished them out of the river and brought them to a beach,” he said. “They were pretty banged up. One had severe cuts and one had a back and a probable head injury.”

He said while serious, the injuries did not appear life-threatening. The occupant with a head injury was taken by Life Flight to St. Joseph Regional Medical Center at Lewiston and the other was taken to the hospital by ambulance.

Paris said people who live in the area provided a four-wheeler and a side-by-side to help ferry rescue equipment to the beach and to move the patients from the beach to the road. Others helped flag down rescuers and point them to the beach.

Paris, who was busy providing medical help to the victims, didn’t catch the names of the boaters. But he questioned if the occupants would have made it to shore without them.

“I’m going to say if it wouldn’t have been for the boaters being on the river when they were, the outcome would have been different,” he said.

One of the boaters was a certified nursing assistant who started first aid on the occupant suffering lacerations. Once medics arrived, Paris said the boaters returned to their outing.

“They were like, ‘Glad to help, talk to you later, take care.’ That is the way it usually works.”

Asotin County Sheriff John Hildebrand said the plane is “submerged” and the National Safety Transportation Board has been contacted and will lead the investigation into the crash.

“Any plane crash you walk away form is a good plane crash,” he said.

Medics from the Lewiston Fire Department and the Asotin County Fire District participated in the rescue.