Idaho Witnesses Pull Plane Crash Victims to Safety

Aug. 12--Recovery will take awhile, but a Boise couple and their adult daughter all have a positive prognosis despite broken backs and other injuries suffered when their light plane crashed in a soccer field south of Salt Lake City on Sunday morning.

"All three of them are going to be OK, and after talking to the surgeon today, (we learned) they're all three going to walk again, which is just a miracle," said Kyle Looper of Boise. "That was not the original assessment. ... (The doctors) are shocked and relieved."

Looper's wife, Anna, and her parents, Steve and Kathy Sedlacek, were pulled from the single-engine Piper PA-32 moments after it crashed in West Jordan, Utah -- and moments before the wreckage caught fire.

All three underwent spinal fusion surgery Sunday, Kyle Looper said. Anna Looper, 28, is in serious condition on a surgical floor at Intermountain Medical Center, where her 56-year-old father -- the pilot and reportedly the most severely injured of the three -- is in the intensive care unit.

Kathy Sedlacek, 57, is in the acute care unit of University Hospital, so Kyle Looper, who is sticking close to his wife, hasn't been able to see her yet.

But Kyle's dad, Bob Looper, did go see Kathy on Monday. "She's doing fine," he said, quickly adding, "It's all relative. Fine from a perspective that they were pulled from an aircraft that burst into flames."

Steve Sedlacek is the former operations supervisor at Republic Services Inc., which he left in June to start Currant Creek Consulting, according to his LinkedIn page. He also is on the board of the Capital City Angel Fund, which helps startup companies grow.

Sedlacek's wife and daughter are nurses in the Treasure Valley. Anna Looper works at Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center, and Kathy Sedlacek is semi-retired and works at a clinic, Kyle Looper said.

Parents and daughter haven't been able to see each other and none of them remembers the crash, Kyle Looper said.

"I don't think any of them have any idea what happened yet," he said. "I know Anna doesn't remember anything past the mayday call."

The three were in Utah visiting Anna's brother, Mark Sedlacek, and other relatives, Kyle Looper said. They took off from South Valley Regional Airport around 9 a.m., intending to head back to Boise, he said. A witness told the Deseret News he immediately knew the plane was in trouble because it failed to gain altitude. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash, but the cause has not yet been determined.

The Sedlaceks were at the front of the plane, with Anna Looper seated behind them, Kyle Looper said. She reportedly had the most serious spinal injuries of the three, he said, but her parents also suffered additional injuries. Kathy Sedlacek has neck and knee injuries, he said, and Steve Sedlacek has a collapsed lung and facial injuries.

Witnesses to the crash pulled all three Boiseans from the plane, and they and their loved ones are tremendously grateful and plan to thank the rescuers in person soon, Kyle and Bob Looper said.

"It's really phenomenal what those people did," Bob Looper said.

It is unclear how long the three Boise residents will have to remain in Utah hospitals.

"Maybe a week. It definitely won't be a few days," Kyle Looper said. "For Steve, it will be longer."

Kyle and his parents drove to Salt Lake City from Boise on Sunday, immediately after they were notified of the crash.

"That's a long drive from Boise to Salt Lake City, when you have all those thoughts and fears," Bob Looper said. "Thank the state of Idaho for increasing the speed limit to 80 on the way to Utah. It came at a perfect time."

Kristin Rodine: 377-6447

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