Crash Survivor A Walking Miracle

John Krogh is a walking miracle.

He survived a plane crash that killed 13 other people who were headed with him to a medical symposium in Northern Missouri. The Early Show National Correspondent Hattie Kauffman visited with Krogh, who after three months is still on the mend. He is one of two people who survived the crash.

"We were flying in the dark, with a light misty rain coming down," Krogh says. "I can remember the plane's landing gears going down. Nothing out of the ordinary at all."

It was Oct. 19; his commuter plane was on final approach to Kirksville, Mo.

"There was no distress signal," he says. "There was no sign that there was any problem aboard the aircraft."

But minutes before landing, the plane crashed in a remote wooded area.

Krogh recalls, "The first noise we heard was a metallic, crashing sound, like you'd run your car into a tin shed or something, just a smashing sound. And people, like going down a roller coaster, they screamed, you know, immediately."

Krogh was knocked unconcious. He awoke to excrutiating pain from a crushed hip, broken bones, cuts and bruises.

What did he see?

"Things in terrible disarray inside the plane," he says. "There were papers and luggage, and people's clothing, just everywhere in that plane. It was just a mess."

As for the people, he says, "There was one person lying on my lap. This person was dead. Her face was down and I can remember pushing her off of me."

As a fire broke out around the wreckage, Krogh somehow managed to drag himself out, falling about eight feet to the ground.

"I just dove out and landed on my head and my arms," he says.

He landed right near the fire, where jet fuel was burning.

"The fire was right under the plane. And I probably just barely missed the actual fire itself," he says. "But it was so hot that I immediately started to crawl away on my back, using my good leg and my elbows to go back. My left hip at that point really hurt badly."

Krogh dragged his broken body away from the flames until he got stuck in a patch of rosebushes.

And while he was caught in the thornbush he says he thought he was going to die.

"I thought there would be a forest fire and I would be burned up in the fire. But there were explosions; they were fireballs that went way up in the sky. I even pulled those rosebushes across my face for a while just to help to shield it from the heat. And I could remember a mouse crawling along one of those, right in front of my face. And then I had these thoughts: Well, if a mouse can do that, maybe there's coyotes that can come and have a barbecue on me."

He was praying hard, he says. At first, rescuers couldn't see him concealed by the brush.

"And I had no voice at all," he says. "People are walking right by me and I said, 'Over here' (speaking in low voice). That's about as loud as I could say it because my broken ribs wouldn't allow me to speak out with any force."

But he survived. "Finally they saw me," he says.

Karen, John Krogh's wife of more than 40 years, rushed to the hospital. She says when she saw him for the first time she had very mixed feelings.

"He looked terrible," she says. "But he was smiling."

Krogh spent a week in intensive care. It was nearly a month before he was able to travel home to Utah.

Though he's getting stronger physically, he's struggled with survivors' guilt. Thirteen others, including close friends, died in the crash.

He survived the crash, the fall, the fire, and not being able to call for help. And has he been wondering: Why me? Why was I saved?

"A lot," he says.

As he tries to make sense of this tragedy, he's grateful for simply being alive, a husband, father and grandfather 20 times over.

There was one other survivor of the Missouri plane crash, Kogh's assistant who happened to be sitting right across the aisle. She's also recovering from broken bones. The cause of the crash remains under investigation.
  • Tatiana Morales

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