Survivor healing, grateful

Baldwin doesn't remember crash

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Tim Baldwin doesn't remember the plane crash that claimed three of his colleagues and almost killed him. In a way, he's glad that he doesn't.

"The only recollection I have is what I've heard from other people," Baldwin said Friday from his Steamboat Springs home. "It's been good in a way, but also unnerving. It's just a strange feeling to have."

Baldwin returned to Steamboat last week after spending nearly two weeks at Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, where he was recovering from injuries sustained in the Yampa Valley Air Ambulance crash, including broken legs, a broken back and a broken sternum.

The 35-year-old emergency medical technician said he's thrilled to be back in the Yampa Valley.

"It's been nice to have a little time to relax on my own," he said. "It's really nice to be home."

Baldwin spent four hours pinned inside the turbo prop plane that

crashed Jan. 11 outside of Rawlins, Wyo., before rescuers reached him. He used his cell phone to call for help immediately after the accident, but he was unable to guide search and rescue teams to the wreckage before his phone battery died.

Baldwin said he can't remember the crash or the 1 1/2 hours he spent on the phone. Nor does he remember his eventual rescue, though he was conscious and talking when emergency personnel finally reached him shortly before 2 a.m. Jan. 12.

"The only thing I remember about the flight is getting the page and getting all our gear together and talking to Dave (Linner) and Jennifer (Wells) about how we wanted to handle the call," Baldwin said, referring to the call for the air ambulance to fly to Rawlins to transport an automobile accident victim to a Casper, Wyo., hospital.

He also recalls talking to Wells during the flight about the patient they needed to transport and how to handle the situation. Wells, on just her second air ambulance flight, was in training.

Baldwin's next memory is waking up in the intensive care unit at Poudre Valley Hospital.

"I remember asking if anyone else made it," he said. "The answer was no."

Linner, Wells and pilot Tim Benway died in the crash.

Even as he asked friends about the fate of his colleagues, Baldwin sensed he knew the answer.

"It's been pretty hard," he said.

There isn't a way to fully express his gratitude for the more than 100 people who searched over rough terrain and in the cold and snow for him and his crewmates, he said.

"It's overwhelming. I owe all those people my life. To all the people who helped out in the rescue -- I don't know how to say thanks enough."

He also thanked the local community and all his friends, family and co-workers for their support.

Now back at home, Baldwin will turn his focus toward making a full recovery from his injuries. He anticipates his injuries will require 12 to 16 weeks of rehabilitation.

Understandably, he's not ready to make any final decisions about his future, but Baldwin can still see himself working as a flight medic.

"The job has turned out to be something I really love," he said. "If I had the choice to make right now, I'd go back. Easily."


-- To reach Brent Boyer call 871-4234

or e-mail bboyer@steamboatpilot.com

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