An Ortonville man is counting his blessings after walking away from a plane crash in Alaska while hunting moose.

Casey West is a nurse at Ascension Genesys Hospital in Grand Blanc. He tells Hometown Life that he was excited and had no worries about heading out on the Alaskan adventure, calling it a "lifetime dream."

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Although West approached the trip without worry, his wife felt differently. Samantha tells the publication that she increased her husband's life insurance just prior to the excursion.

Her biggest fear was her husband flying in a bush plane, the only method of transportation available. The couple notes that there are about 10 bush plane crashes each year.

Surviving a Plane Crash and a Tsunami

West and two companions headed off on their adventure in September. Fortunately, the hunt was successful as West and one of his cohorts were each able to bag a moose.

However, the trio encountered cold, miserable conditions along the way, forcing them to shelter in a tent for two days. West says they also survived charges by a bull moose that came within about five feet of the hunters. Despite the danger, they couldn't legally kill the animal because of its size.

When the weather cleared, the trio boarded a plane with a seasoned pilot.

West recounts what happened next to Hometown Life.

“We took off north because there was no bank — we’re going, going, going, and all of a sudden, we got hit by a huge wind gust,” he said. “We weren’t high enough off the water and the wing hit the water and dragged and spun us to the left. The pilot was pulling at the lever to get the plane up, and I said, ‘Oh my God, we’re gonna hit the bank.’ And we hit it so hard, we shot up into the air 70 to 80 yards, spinning and then nosedived right into the Earth.”

West and the other three all survived the crash, with the pilot sustaining a head injury that required 17 stitches.

But the incident certainly didn't deter West. He says he'll have to "butter up" his wife a bit, but plans to head out west for an elk hunt later this month. He also hopes to return to Alaska someday.

“It was crazy,” West said. “But I can’t wait to go back. I’d do it again.”


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