Local jumper turns hero in crash

Steamboat skier Brendan Doran helps rescue two men from small-plane crash


Steamboat Springs special jumper Brendan Doran got the scare of a life-time while relaxing with a game of golf at the Craig Wood Golf Course in Lake Placid, N.Y.
Doran was on the No. 8 hole of the golf course when a small plane made an emergency landing on the No. 9 fairway, just about 45 feet from where he was standing.
"I was taking my second shot on the No. 8 hole when I heard the plane overhead," Doran said.
Doran added that there was no engine noise, just the rush of air as the plane attempted to make what Doran thought was an emergency landing on the fairway adjacent to where he was standing.
"It's kind of funny, but it sounded a lot like a ski jumper going through the air," Doran said. "
But while making a final banking turn, Doran said the plane suddenly dipped its nose and hit the ground hard.
"It probably took me about 15 seconds to get to where the plane had crashed and I was the first one there," Doran said.
The two occupants of the aircraft, pilot Jack Vitvitsky, 55, and passenger David Heim, 44, were unconscious in the wreckage, which still smelled of fuel.
Doran and another group of golfers who arrived at the scene had to pull a door off of the plane to get to the two men inside the plane. Once they cleared some of the wreckage, they pulled the men out and began trying to help them. Doran said a doctor who was playing golf instructed the others on how to help the men until rescue workers arrived.
"They were both in pretty bad shape," Doran said.
Doran said the men had suffered severe lacerations and compound fractures. He said it was hard to help, but he never thought about leaving.
Both men were air lifted to Fletcher Allen Hospital in Burlington, Vt., after the Saturday evening crash for treatment of multiple traumatic injuries sustained as a result of the crash. They were both listed in critical condition on Tuesday evening.
Doran lives in Steamboat Springs, but spends much of his summer training on the plastic covered jumps in Lake Placid. He is a member of the U.S. Special Jumping team.
"It's a life-changing experience," Doran said of the incident. "I keep seeing it over and over in my head and I'll never forget that moment when it hit the ground."
The cause of the accident is still unknown. The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the accident.

To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209 or e-mail jrussell@amigo.net


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