U.S. News


Parents, 2-year-old daughter escape plane crash using parachute

A family of three had taken off minutes before their plane's engine lost power, causing them to rely on a parachute to save them.
A wrecked plane is shown.
Posted at 7:10 PM, Mar 15, 2024

A couple and their 2-year-old daughter were able to escape a plane crash by using a parachute, leaving them with only minor cuts and scratches while the plane appears to have snapped upon landing.

Droves of Northern California first responders were dispatched to the crash site near Whitethorn, California, on the afternoon of March 8. Upon locating the plane, officials found the 38-year-old male and female and the girl, the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office said.

Deputies said they learned from their investigation that the crash occurred shortly after takeoff. About five minutes into the flight, the plane's engine lost power, and as the pilot began to troubleshoot for the reason, the plane's altitude reached too low of a point to recover, according to authorities.

The sheriff's office said the pilot deployed the aircraft's Cirrus Airframe Parachute System at this point, which slowed the plane's descent as it crashed into a heavily wooded area in the California mountains. 

Mendocino County Sheriff's spokesperson Capt. Quincy Cromer told CBS News that the plane and parachute first became entangled in trees about 100 feet above the ground before falling. He said this would typically be a "worst-case scenario," and that the family's minor abrasions were a "miracle."

The Shelter Cove Fire Department, one of the many fire and rescue units that responded to the scene, agreed, saying in a post on Instagram that the family's minor injuries amid the "challenging terrain" was a result of the plane's built-in parachute system. 

It also said that the coordinated response from the other emergency response teams and the "quick action of the witnesses" allowed for the successful location of the three occupants and the crew to extinguish a small fire. 

"This is extremely steep and difficult terrain. Even with the parachute, the parties involved were extremely fortunate to only receive minor injuries. We are grateful for the professionalism and dedication demonstrated by everyone involved," Shelter Cove Fire said in a post on Instagram alongside photos of the broken-apart plane.

This is the second small plane to crash in two years in the Shelter Cove Fire Department's response area. It said both only resulted in minor injuries but that both aircraft in each incident were destroyed.

The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board were contacted by the responding officials and are now investigating the incident.