Office Of Public Affairs

AirMed: A Life-Saving Mission in the Cedar Mountains

Nov 8, 2007 5:00 PM

It was a warm and sunny day in October 2003, when Vaughn and Jennifer Kinder set off on a scenic flight in their single-engine, four-seater plane.

The Kinders, who are both pilots, and two friends were flying over the rugged terrain of the Cedar Mountains, about 50 miles west of Salt Lake City, when the plane crashed into the hillside.

Vaughn Kinder remembers fighting to stay conscious, unaware of how seriously he was injured. His entire focus was on his wife and two passengers.

With equipment badly damaged, he turned to an old cell phone to call 911. "I was able to talk to dispatch by holding the phone two feet above my head," he recalled. A search-and- rescue effort began.

Waiting for help to arrive, the Kinders were surrounded by an eerie stillness, exchanging only occasional words as Jennifer went in and out of consciousness. An F-16 fighter pilot who happened to be training in the area honed in on the plane's emergency locator transmitter and dropped a flare identifying the crash site. AirMed soon landed nearby.

"It is hard to express how joyous I felt at the sound of those helicopter blades," Kinder says. "The greatest guys in the world were soon jumping all over the hill." He recalls a flight nurse telling him he had just minutes to live. Tragically, the Kinders' two passengers did not survive.

"I remember it like it was yesterday," said Brian Simpson, R.N., AirMed's program manager, who was on that rescue mission. "It was a heartwrenching scene because two people had passed away," he adds. "But we were able to save two."

"These people are extraordinary with what they have chosen to do," said Jennifer Kinder.

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