Two men whose small plan crashed just inside Yellowstone National Park were able to walk away from the wreckage Saturday and were soon found by rescuers who had been searching for them.
The single-engine Piper 180 airplane went down Friday evening southeast of the East Entrance road near Sylvan Pass, according to a statement released by the park’s public affairs office.
James Betzold, 61, and his son Douglas Betzold, 25, both from Beluga, Alaska, were traveling to Boise, Idaho. The pair had taken off from Yellowstone Regional Airport in Cody, Wyo. at approximately 4 p.m. after a refueling stop when the crash occurred.
Authorities received a report of the overdue aircraft shortly after midnight. Park County, Wyo. Search and Rescue workers and Yellowstone National Park rangers began a joint search for the aircraft at first light Saturday morning.
Despite the government shutdown, national parks across the country continue to employ some rangers for law enforcement, search and rescue and other essential duties.
Search crews were able to approximate the location of the aircraft through tracking signals from its emergency location transmitter. A Park County Search and Rescue aircraft located the wreckage shortly before 9 a.m. and was able to confirm that both occupants had survived.
Park County and Yellowstone rescuers on the ground began making their way to the crash site, approximately 1,500 yards south of the East Entrance road, both survivors were observed walking out under their own power.
The men sustained bruises, lacerations and possible fractures. Both were transported by ambulance to West Park Hospital in Cody.
The circumstances surrounding the crash are being investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration, in coordination with the National Park Service.
Contact Yellowstone Gate at 307-213-9818 or [email protected]