Lucky landing brings plane down by Beaver Lake
By KATHY PAULSEN
If you don’t believe in God, guardian angels, miracles and fate you may think twice about the airplane crash that took place north of Beaver Lake on Thursday night, February 2.
Daniel Johnathan Bass, 39, who works in the area of metal fabrication, filed a flight plan and left the Duluth airport at 6:10 on Thursday night. It is thought that he headed his single engine Mooney M20M airplane on a direct flight, south bound for home, to Winona.
Bass has experienced many hours of flying time, and once in the air it is thought that he had put his plane on automatic pilot.
The Federal Aviation Administration later that evening reported the plane missing when it disappeared from radar. Somehow the plane got about 85 miles off course from what should have been a straight-line flight.
Cynthia Crabtree, who lives a little bit north of Beaver Lake, had been sitting in her sunroom that night, when she heard a noise and assumed a large portion of an oak tree on the farm had come down. Then, about 9:00, she heard a banging sound on the outside of her home, as well as a cry for help.
She went to investigate but was concerned about opening the door as she was home alone. She looked out the window and discovered a man with blood on his face standing outside her home.
Cynthia happens to be a nurse and felt a need to help the man. She asked him to come into her home and immediately called 911. She said it didn’t take long before help arrived, probably because there had already been people out looking for the missing plane.
Cynthia did what she could to help the injured pilot, and was pleased to find that though his speech was impaired he was alert and responsive.
Following the initial review of Bass’ medical condition, he asked if he could call his wife as she would have been expecting him home. He was also concerned about his plane.
Bass told Cynthia that it may have taken him about 20-30 minutes or more to free himself from the plane, which had crashed just west of 72nd Avenue SW. Once he got his bearings in the dark, he started walking toward the light he had seen in the area, which he later learned was the Crabtree farm. It was later determined that Daniel had walked about 500 yards looking for someone to help him.
When the plane crashed, the windshield shattered, and Bass hit his head on the dash. He was transported to St. Marys’ Hospital in Rochester by a North Memorial helicopter and remained in the hospital for a few days following the accident.
Bass sustained a broken jaw as a result of the plane crash and had to undergo surgery to repair the break before he was released from the hospital.
Several local sheriff’s departments, Steele, Waseca and Freeborn, the Minnesota Highway Patrol, local ambulance and EMTs, members of the fire department, and others assisted at the scene. Chuck Crabtree said he was surprised to see about 20 emergency vehicles in the area when he returned home that night.
Once word was released that there was a plane missing, people from the area commented they had heard planes flying low over the area, something they felt was a bit unusual for this time of the year, especially at night. People may have first heard the plane that had gotten off course, as well as the aircraft that had been sent out to look for the missing plane.
The plane came down in an area that is owned by Evelyn Lee and Chuck and Cynthia Crabtree and came to rest in a northwesterly direction on a snowbank a short distance from a grove of trees on the north side of the Crabtree farm. Bass was fortunate that the plane came down in an area that was clear of trees and buildings.
The Federal Aviation Administration and the NTSB were called in to investigate the plane crash. Following the initial investigation, the plane, which sustained substantial damage, was disassembled into sections and loaded unto trailers and all the debris from the accident was cleared from the scene.
It is unknown how long it will take to determine the cause of the plane crash. It can take months for the National Transportation Safety Board to complete their investigation and anything less is pure speculation.
Bass’s brother, who lives in the Twin Cities area, visited the site of the crash the following day and expressed his appreciation to the Crabtrees for their help. He also said that his brother planned to come back for a visit with them sometime in the future, which would allow him to thank them personally for all the help that they had offered him.
On Sunday afternoon, a beautiful bouquet of flowers and a brief note were delivered to Cynthia, which brought tears to her eyes. The note said, “Thank you so much for everything. I am doing well, better every day. Looking forward to seeing you again. I will be more cleaned up and will drive there to visit you. Yours truly, Dan and Deanna Bass.”
We are glad to report Bass was able to walk away from his accident and thankful for the many people from our southern Minnesota area who offered him their assistance when he so desperately needed it.
It has been said before and I am sure it will be said again, “Any landing one can walk away from is a good one.”