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Plane crashes in Telegraph Pass
UPDATED - A Yuma pilot sustained non-life-threatening injuries when his plane crashed early Tuesday morning in the Telegraph Pass area.
According to Capt. Eben Bratcher, spokesman for the Yuma County Sheriff’s Office, pilot Dan Bossard, 57, was the only person in the one-seat, single-engine craft, when the plane went down early Tuesday morning in the area of County 6th Street and Avenue 17E.
“The area is predominantly agriculture fields,” Bratcher said.
Bratcher said the crash happened approximately 300 to 400 feet up the side of a mountain, which made it difficult for rescuers to reach Bossard.
Tri-Valley paramedic Barry Adams said despite the mountain’s steep slopes, rescuers made their way up to the crash site on foot. “We were all spent by the time we got up there. The slopes in some places were as much as 45 degrees.”
According to Bratcher, the sheriff’s office received a report of a downed aircraft at approximately 6:23 a.m. The crash, he said, is believed to have occurred sometime around 4:30 a.m. when the plane failed to return to refuel and reload with pesticides.
Adams said when the plane did not return, Bossard’s boss began flying around looking for him. A conductor on a Union Pacific train traveling through the vicinity also spotted the plane wreckage on the side of the mountain, stopped his train and reported it. It is not known which person spotted the crash first.
The pilot may have been pinned in the plane for as long as two hours before rescuers arrived.
Units from Tri-Valley Ambulance, the Wellton Fire Department, YCSO and the U.S. Border Patrol responded to the crash and were able to extricate Bossard from the wreckage. Paramedics from Tri-Valley had to climb on top of the plane during the intricate rescue.
“The plane actually slid a couple of feet down the mountain while we were on it,” Adams said.
A Search and Rescue helicopter from Marine Corps Air Station Yuma also responded to the wreck and transported Bossard to Yuma Regional Medical Center. Due to the rocky terrain, the SAR helicopter could not land, so rescuers had to hand the litter with the patient up to waiting medical personnel inside the helicopter.
“The pilot had the SAR helicopter balanced on one skid on the side of a rock so they could load the patient,” Bratcher said. “He was a hell of a pilot.”
Adams said Bossard sustained multiple injuries, including breaking both of his lower legs and knees, lacerations to his arm and a broken nose.
The aircraft is owned by Morris Agricultural Sprayers from Yuma. The Federal Aviation Administration as well as the National Transportation Safety Board will conduct an investigation to determine what may have caused the crash.
James Gilbert can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6854.