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Pilot: Midair crash came without warning

ROSEBURG (AP) — A midair crash in Idaho that killed a 2-year-old boy and injured three men, including two from Roseburg last week occurred without warning, a pilot says.

“I didn’t see the other plane or hear them on the radio, and they didn’t see us,” 39-year-old Chris Jordan told the Roseburg News-Review. “I knew from reading, people don’t survive midair collisions. I thought I was going to die.”

Jordan was landing a single-engine Piper Tri-Pacer Friday at the Johnson Creek Airport, a back-country airstrip near Yellow Pine in western Idaho.

A Beechcraft Baron also heading for a landing came down on top of Jordan’s plane about 60 feet in the air, the Valley County Sheriff’s Office said.

The other pilot, Ronald Beitel, 48, of Salt Lake City, was seriously injured, and his young son was killed.

Jordan and his passenger, Dan Sprague, 54, both of Roseburg, have returned home, along with their friend, Tom Weiss, a fellow pilot who participated in the annual fly-in that attracted about 100 small-plane enthusiasts.

Weiss said he was flying in front of Jordan and Sprague’s aircraft.

“My first thought was, ‘It’s a slim chance anybody survives a midair crash.’”

Weiss and his 18-year-old son, Davis, didn’t witness the impact, but heard over the radio a man yelling that two planes were landing at the same time.

By the time the Weisses turned around, they saw two ant trails of people hurrying toward the wreckage.

Beitel was flown by helicopter to Saint Alfonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise and was initially listed in serious condition. A hospital spokeswoman said Monday no more condition updates would be provided. Authorities declined to release the name of the boy who died.

Jordan suffered a sprained wrist, broken teeth and a split lip. Tom Weiss flew him to a hospital in McCall for treatment.

“I knew I was doing pretty good for everything I went through,” Jordan said.

Jordan was discharged from the hospital about 15 minutes before Sprague arrived. Sprague was treated for a lower leg fracture.

Sprague said Monday his leg is sore, and he is resting.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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