Friday, January 1, 1999 Laredo Morning Times PAGE 5A
Rescue at 10,600 feet: Skier happens upon plane crash
BY STEVEN K. PAULSON Eberlein’s plane had gone down just 300 yards
Associated Press Writer from the trail he was skiing. Marics, 37, said he
heard the plane engine laboring and looked up as
DENVER — Gert Eberlein and his two passen- the aircraft slammed into the trees.
gers escaped serious injury when their small He skied through timber and reached the crash
plane crashed into a mountain during a howling site almost immediately, where he found the pilot
whiteout storm. But as the winds whipped around standing outside the wreckage, and the two
them, they feared it could be days before anyone injured passengers — Ms. Rudd and her mother,
found them. Rebecca — inside.
Then, out of the swirling snow trudged Frank “The wind was really blowing. I called out to the
Marics, who had been on one of his solo skiing pilot and he whistled back,” Marics said. “I think
adventures in the Rocky Mountains to “get close he was kind of surprised to see me.”
to the wilderness.” Mrs. Rudd, 53, said the three had barely had
“He said, ‘Hey, I’ve got some bad news for you: time to think of the looming prospect of a long stay
Your plane is destroyed,”’ recalled 22-year-old on the mountainside. “I thought, ‘Oh, my God.
Natasha Rudd, one of Eberlein’s passengers. This is wonderful. Someone has already found
Marics, a Boulder parks construction supervisor us,”’ she said.
and avid cross-country skier and rock climber, Marics skied down to a railroad tunnel, where
skied off to get help Wednesday and brought res- rescuers in snowmobiles were assembled, and
cuers on snowmobiles, who took the three crash led them back to the crash site.
victims to safety. He said the winds were about 40 mph at the
“He was great,” Ms. Rudd said. time, and swirling snow made a helicopter rescue
Eberlein, 52, said the weather was clear when impossible.
they left Boulder for Steamboat Springs for a Marics met another cross-country skier on the
ski trip. But conditions worsened quickly as he way down, and sent her back to the crash site to
reached Rollins Pass, about 40 miles northwest stay with the victims. It took rescuers about two
of Denver, and Eberlein was forced to turn hours to reach them.
back. The three were treated at a hospital and AP Photo
As he tried to turn around, a downdraft threw the released. Eberlein works with Mrs. Rudd, who RESCUED: A female plane crash victim is examined after being evacuated via snowmobile just south of Rollins
Piper 28 Cherokee into the mountain, stranding was visiting her daughter, who lives in Boulder. Pass, Colo., Wednesday. A cross-country skier stumbled across three injured people hiding in the wreckage of
them at 10,600 feet. Stanton La Breche, Marics’ boss, said he wasn’t a small plane that had crashed several hours earlier Wednesday.
“There wasn’t much I could do,” the pilot said surprised Marics was out in the wilderness, enjoy-
Thursday in a halting German accent. ing his Christmas vacation.
Eberlein, a 52-year-old pharmaceutical sales- “He’s a hardy individual,” La Breche said.
man from Menlo Park, Calif., who commutes by “Everything he does is done safely. It can be very
plane to Napa Valley every day, said he got his dangerous out there.”
passengers out of the plane and shut off the fuel.
Then he got out some warm clothes, his damaged
cell phone and some food.
The temperature was near freezing, with wind
chills 5 to 15 degrees below zero.
Eberlein called the Colorado State Patrol but
couldn’t tell them where he was. He also started
That’s about when Marics appeared.