Two days before his 19th birthday last week, Logan Schneider may have saved a helicopter pilot’s life in the middle of Washington when it crashed into a set of power lines above the teenager and landed on top of his tractor.
Schneider had just finished working on his family’s cherry orchard in Orondo, Washington, when he heard a loud crash above him and saw a Hiller UH-12E.
“I had noise-canceling headphones on, and all of a sudden, I just hear something so loud above me,” Schneider told NCWLIFE. “And I look up, and I see the helicopter hit the power line, and then it comes crashing down, and it hit me on the tractor and pinned me against the steering wheel.”
Schneider told KREM2 that the nose of the helicopter wedged him against the steering wheel.
Just after he escaped the trap, he saw the pilot, Cori Johnson, 39, from Idaho, screaming while hanging upside down in his harness as the helicopter burned in flames.
“I had to go in through the fire, reach my arms through and unclip him,” Schneider told the New York Times.
He said he “really wasn’t thinking” at the moment when he rescued Johnson.
“I was just doing,” he said.
Orondo Fire authorities responded to the crash on July 7 around 9:00 a.m and found the helicopter wreckage and the tractor on fire.
“Firefighters initial efforts were hindered by difficult access and high voltage power lines,” authorities said. “Once the power lines were de-energized firefighters extinguished the fire on both the tractor and helicopter.”
Authorities reported the initial investigation showed the helicopter struck high voltage power lines then swiftly moved into the cherry orchard.
The New York Times reported the F.A.A. said out of the 12,000 civilian helicopters flown last year, 114 crashes occurred.
David Schneider, Logan’s father, told the New York Times he received a call about the crash while at work about 20 minutes away.
“I’m still in awe,” David Schneider said. “I still get goosebumps thinking of what could have happened and trying not to dwell on what could have happened.”
Both men only sustained minor injuries and were transported to Central Washington Hospital for treatment. While the pilot suffered a broken arm and minor burns, Schneider, sustained minor, second-degree burns on his arms and muscle damage in his back.
Schneider described the odds of that happening as one in a million.
“I feel like I always have someone watching over me, God watching over me, protecting me,” Schneider told KREM2. “And you never know when it could be your last moment.”
Schneider told reporters despite the accident, he plans on fulfilling his goal of enrolling in an aviation program to learn how to fly commercial airliners.
But perhaps the strangest part about Schneider and Johnson crashing into each other — they both share the same July 8 birthday.
“I just thought it was so bizarre,” Schneider said.