Survivors of Medical Chopper Crash Talk About Recovery
For the first time we're hearing from three medics who survived when their air ambulance crashed in Alexandria.
It happened two months ago, one still remains in the hospital.
"I was ejected from the helicopter and was found on the ground," said flight paramedic Miles Weske."My vertebra from the impact of the force shattered," said flight nurse Scott Scepaniak.
"Helicopters are typically not very survivable, not in a crash like that," says North Memorial Air Care pilot Joshua Jones.
It was 2 a.m. Saturday morning, Sept. 17.
An air ambulance heading from Brainerd to Alexandria crashed just before landing to pick up a patient.
"At some point I noticed the aircraft had gone into a hard left bank, so it was turning sharp left, and then I remember a sharp right, which was probably me over-correcting," says Jones.
Jones was ejected through the front windshield, he broke bones from his shoulders to his feet.
"I remember my back hurting," said Scepaniak.
Scepaniak was pinned between the helicopter and a tree.
He remembers unbuckling his seatbelt and taking off his helmet, and said he immediately heard voices.
"I remember people talking, trying to find us, trying to figure out who was all there, who was all injured," he says.
Turns out where they crashed was the first miracle.
"God was very gracious because somehow we ended up in a doctors yard," said Jones.
The second miracle was Miles Weske.
"The first day we didn't know if he was going to make it," said Brook Weber, Weske's fiancée.
Weske, a flight paramedic, has no memory of the crash.
"I ended up somehow on the ground about 40 feet from the aircraft," he says.
He broke his neck, back, ribs, leg, ankle, had a lacerated liver and bleeding in the brain.
"The priest came in to give me last rites, that's where we were at," he says.
Weske and his fiancée are both flight medics, they've talked about this exact scenario.
"Not really expecting it could happen, but aware it could, and it did," he says.
When Weske arrived at North Memorial Medical Center 60 days ago he was given only had a one percent chance of surviving this crash, now he's looking at leaving the hospital this week.
"I'm astonished, and grateful the people who were there, were there," he says.
The North Memorial family came together Tuesday to celebrate these men, thank them for what they do, and wish them well as they continue to recover.
"I'm doing great, I'm down to two Tylenol before I go to bed, I hope to be walking next week," says Jones with a smile.
Jones and Scepaniak plan to fly again.
Weske isn't sure if his injuries will allow it.
But for all three, the irony of this horrific crash isn't lost on them.
"It hits you, that you leave trying to save a patient and you become a patient, it's a tough thing to deal with," says Scepaniak.
The National Transportation Safety Board says the cause of the crash hasn't been determined, but weather had moved into the area.
Weske and Weber had planned to marry last month, their wedding has now been rescheduled for January.
Weske is bound and determined to walk down the aisle.