WESTFIELD, Ind. — A pilot from Westfield crashed in a Canadian forest about two weeks ago and recorded everything he did while waiting to be rescued.
Matt Lehtinen was flying to Quebec City when his plane’s engine lost power. He was forced to activate his parachute and crash. The father of two said he was just hoping and praying to make it out alive.
“I will never forget the sound it made. It was like it was trying to grind itself to pieces,” he said.
Lehtinen’s plane slammed between two trees in the Canadian wilderness. He believes he was just inches away from death.
“I came 2 inches from being impaled by a tree it actually ripped my shorts gave me a cut right there,” he said.
That scrape is his only injury. While alone in the thick terrain, with help miles away, he recorded everything he did to survive.
“It was a very stressful situation, but I was not really scared for my life,” said Lehtinen.
As he worked to send out a signal, his in-laws in Plainfield were desperate to hear if he was OK.
“Stressful. I do not know a better word to put to it. Until we knew what condition everything was in,” said Sandy Silver, his mother-in-law.
Lehtinen made the risky decision to dart back to the plane for supplies despite the risk of explosion. He started a fire using fire sticks, a lighter and moss. Rescuers finally spotted the smoke and they dropped down a radio so they could talk to him.
Five hours after his crash, crews swooped down to pick him up.
“Extremely grateful to everyone involved in the rescue, and my challenge now is what to do with this gift of a second chance at life,” he said.
Lehtinen said he was able to send his coordinates but rescue crews could not find him because the forest was so thick. He recorded this video because even if he died, he wanted other pilots to learn from this experience.