CENTERVILLE — A Life Flight paramedic is fighting for his life after strangers pulled him from a fiery plane crash, and his colleagues administered life-saving aid aboard the same helicopter where he usually works alongside them.
Jason Sorensen, 47, was a passenger aboard a plane that took off in Bountiful at 12:10 p.m. Thursday and was scheduled to arrive in Ogden at 12:48 p.m., according to Flight Aware. Police were alerted to the crash, which occurred just west of Legacy Parkway in a field near Tippetts Lane.
“Our Life Flight crew responded not knowing one of their colleagues was involved,” said Jess Gomez, media relations director for Intermountain Healthcare. “They learned his identity when they began rescue (efforts), and they were just completely amazingly professional.”
Sorensen and the plane’s pilot, Andrew Kostrzewa, were pulled from the fiery wreckage by two people who were driving on Legacy Parkway and saw the crash. Life Flight was summoned after police and fire crews arrived.
“Witnesses described the aircraft as ‘losing elevation’ and ‘banking hard’,” said Centerville Police Chief Paul Childs.
Learning that a victim is someone they know, not to mention someone with whom they’re extremely close can be traumatic, even for the most seasoned rescuers. Gomez said they focused on administering help the same way they do on every call.
“They knew what they had to do,” Gomez said of the three-person crew, which is made up of a pilot, a paramedic and a flight nurse. “They do it day in and day out. They flew him to the University of Utah Hospital, and he is now in the burn center in critical condition.”
Intermountain officials made counseling services available to all Life Flight personnel, as it has been devastating to the entire organization.
“They’re like a family,” he said, “incredibly tight-knit.”
Gomez said they’re focused on helping Sorensen’s family, as he has a long road to recovery ahead. Sorensen has worked as a Life Flight paramedic for the last 15 years.
“We’ve reached out to his wife, and we’re focused on helping them during this challenging, very tragic time,” he said. “We want to be there for them, as well. He suffered significant injuries in the crash, and the recovery process is going to be very challenging. But from what I’ve been told about Jason, he’s up to the challenge. He’s an incredible individual so we’re hoping for the best.”
Kostrzewa, 72, who also owned the plane, did not survive the crash. He was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. Both good Samaritans were treated for burns and smoke inhalation.
“Amazing,” Gomez said. “Pretty courageous people.”
Correction: An earlier version misidentified the paramedic as Jason Swenson instead of Jason Sorensen.