Plane crash survivor hailed a hero after finding help

ST MARY’S, (AK) – A plane crash survivor is being called a hero for her extraordinary efforts to save lives, despite losing her own child.

When 25-year-old Melanie Coffee’s plane went down in a remote part of Alaska, the pilot and three passengers were killed, including her five-month-old son. Six others were hurt and she was the only one who could walk. So, she set out over the frozen tundra, over ground so rough even snowmobiles couldn’t reach it.

"What's really remarkable about it is that she was tending to her infant child that was gravely injured at the same time,” Clifton Dalton, an Alaska paramedic said. “You know walking a quarter mile, a half a mile to keep her composure, to keep her senses gathered, and remaining calm enough to be able to direct rescuers into where the aircraft scene was."

The single-engine Cessna left Bethel on Saturday night, bound for Mountain Village then St. Mary’s. The crash happened before they could reach Mountain Village. The plane was flying in icy fog-like conditions.

After hiking to St. Mary’s, Coffee finally found help. Rescuers hiked in and carried out the injured passengers.