Steamboat Springs special jumper Brendan Doran got the scare of a lifetime while relaxing with a game of golf at the Craigwood Golf Course in Lake Placid, N.Y.
Doran was on the No. 8 hole of the golf course July 8, when a small plane crash-landed about 45 feet from where he was standing on the fairway.
"I was taking my second shot on the No. 8 hole when I heard the plane overhead,' Doran said.
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.
While making a final banking turn, the plane suddenly dipped its nose and hit the ground hard, Doran said.
"It probably took me about 15 seconds to get to where the plane had crashed and I was the first one there," he added.
The two occupants of the aircraft, pilot Jack Vitvitsky, 55, and passenger David Heim, 44, were unconscious in the wreckage, which smelled of fuel. Doran and another group of golfers who arrived at the scene quickly had to pull a door off the plane to get to the two men inside. 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 that day helped instruct the others how to help the men until emergency workers arrived.
"They were both in pretty bad shape," he said.
Doran said the men had suffered sever lacerations and compound fractures. He said it was hard to help, but he never thought about leaving.
Both men were airlifted to Fletcher Allen Hospital in Burlington, Vt., for treatment of numerous traumatic injuries sustained as a result of the crash. They were both listed in critical condition on Tuesday evening.
Witnesses, including Doran, said the 1966 Cessna 172G single-engine aircraft was flying erratically and at low speed with no engine noise before the crash.
Doran was on the golf course preparing for a tournament to benefit Special Olympics on Monday in Rochester, N.Y.
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."
Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board officials are investigating the accident.
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