‘Unacceptable’ to quit: woman tells of plane crash
BILLINGS, Mont. ” Jodee Hogg had survived the plane crash and a cold night on top of a mountain. She feared if she and her injured companion didn’t start hiking, neither of them would survive a second night.
Hogg, 23, and Matthew Ramige, 30, had been presumed dead when the small plane carrying them and two other U.S. Forest Service workers crashed Sept. 20 in the Great Bear-Bob Marshall Wilderness Area. They were on their way into the backcountry to fix telecommunications equipment and conduct a vegetation survey.
“I had a feeling that it was absolutely unacceptable for me to sit down and quit,” Hogg said Wednesday, recounting how she and Ramige managed to make their way out of the wilderness. “I was perfectly capable of walking, and I had walked a lot further than that in my life before.”
With her twin sister and parents beside her, Hogg recalled how she and Ramige struggled to make their way off the mountain, convinced they could not wait to be rescued if they wanted to survive.
Hogg, with a sprained foot and back, and Ramige, suffering a broken back and severe burns, hobbled to a highway where they eventually flagged down motorists. The distance was probably only three to five miles, but their travel time was 29 hours.
The crash, still under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board, killed pilot Jim Long and Davita Bryant instantly. Ken Good survived the impact, though he died a short time later. Ramige remains in a Seattle hospital.
Bryant, Hogg and Ramige were all employed by the U.S. Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain Station in Fort Collins, Colo., but worked out of its Ogden, Utah office.
Hogg recounted the unexpected crash, hitting her back and thinking: “That’s gonna hurt.” She said the plane was on fire by the time it came to a stop on the mountain and she quickly unbuckled her seat belt to escape.
“The fire in the plane was really intense,” she said. Within minutes, it was engulfed. “It doesn’t seem like it took very long.”
Ramige and Good also made it out of the plane. Hogg managed to build a box-like shelter from scattered plane parts. Good’s injuries were too severe.
By morning, Hogg said, she knew she and Ramige had to start moving.
“It was probably the longest night I’ve ever had in my life,” she said. “We kept our spirits up. We talked a lot, slept a bit. Then morning came, and it was just another day I had to take a walk in the woods, so we did.”
Hogg said she could see generally which direction they needed to go, but the going was hard ” there were rocks and logs and it was easy to fall down.
They walked a bit, then rested, then set out again, Hogg said. Through much of the trek, Hogg said she was simply on “autopilot.”
Several times, Hogg said she and Ramige saw planes overhead and waved; they stumbled across a trail and yelled. On their second night together, they had managed to get to lower elevation, but it was still cold. They hunkered down in an area where trees provided some shelter and slept on a bed of leaves.
Hogg said the whole time, she stayed focused on reaching help.
When they finally made it to a highway, she said they encountered three vehicles, all of which stopped, including a Forest Service green truck.
Some seemed to be confused by what she told them.
“I’m from the 206,” she said, referring to the model of Cessna plane that had crashed. “I was in the plane crash. I need to go to the hospital, my friend needs a helicopter right now.”
Hogg, who was using a cane on Wednesday, said she drew strength from her family and friends. She mentioned specifically her twin, Kyna, who said she had the “worst day of my life and best day of my life back to back.”
“As for right now,” Kyna Hogg said, “everything’s getting better everyday.”
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