Father and 13-Year-Old Daughter Found in Penn. Woods After Plane Crash Thanks to iPad: 'A Miracle'
A father and his teenage daughter, who were involved in a plane crash on Sunday, are lucky to be alive — and it's all thanks to their iPhone and iPad.
Had it not been for the pings to the pair's personal electronic devices, and a set of miraculous circumstances, authorities say the 58-year-old man and his 13-year-old daughter might not have survived.
"From what I hear and see, you don't really hear of survivors, especially in the area that they crashed, it's very heavily wooded," Chief James Serafin with the Bear Creek Volunteer Hose Company told CNN. "They had to go through trees and everything else. It definitely was a miracle."
"I can honestly say, I think every rescuer out there was planning this to be a recovery rather than a rescue, and nobody was more surprised than when I first got to the airplane and found they were alive," Sgt. John Richards, with the Pennsylvania State Police, added in an interview with NewsNation Now.
According to a report from the Pennsylvania State Police, Wilkes-Barre Patrol Unit officers were alerted to a possible plane crash around 8:30 p.m. Sunday in Bear Creek Township, which is located approximately 25 miles south of Scranton.
Officials later learned that a plane departing the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Airport had disappeared from radar "after a rapid descent," the report stated.
In a statement to PEOPLE, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) confirms that a single-engine Cessna 150 crashed in a wooded area, located southeast of the airport, with only two people on board — the unidentified father and his teenage daughter.
State Police said first responders with the U.S. Air Force Rescue Coordination Center spent approximately five hours searching for the plane wreckage that night, where temperatures dropped into the 30s. Snow was also present in the area that evening, according to CNN.
Rescue teams eventually pinged the last known location of the plane and carefully did a grid search in the woods before learning the identity of the pilot, the outlet reported.
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Once officials had that information, they were able to contact the man's wife, who was waiting for them at their destination — the Pocono Mountains Municipal Airport in Tobyhanna, per the FAA. Authorities then used the father's cell phone number to ping his location, according to CNN.
"They were able to ping the cell phone and they found out that the daughter had an iPad. With certain iPads, you're able to ping signals to it and once we got that coordinate, that's where we located them," Serafin explained to the outlet.
When authorities finally reached the pair, they were found in a pre-hypothermic state with injuries, according to the State Police report.
"They were huddled with each other trying to keep each other warm," Serafin noted to CNN.
"The pilot who was protecting his passenger was very scared," added Richards to NewsNation Now. "When I first got to him, he had a look of sheer terror on his face. When I informed him who we were and we were there to help, and that we were gonna get them out safely... the look of calm that came over his face, I don't think I'll ever forget that image in my head."
At this time, it is unclear what caused the plane to crash.
The FAA spokesperson tells PEOPLE they are investigating the incident, along with the National Transportation Safety Board.