Challenges Met Those Responding To Plane Crash

Thursday, January 17th 2008, 11:00 pm
By: News On 6

The investigation continues into a deadly plane crash at Mohawk Park.  Darrin Ogletree reported a problem with his gyroscope just after take-off.  Federal investigators say the cargo plane circled the airport twice before it went down.  Ogletree was flying a load of checks from Tulsa to Oklahoma City, a route he flew on a routine basis.  The NTSB says Ogletree was an experienced pilot, but should have had a backup for a broken gyroscope.  News On 6 anchor Latoya Silmon reports the crash site proved a challenge for emergency responders to find.

Investigators certainly had their work cut out for them.  The crash site is heavily wooded.  But, man and machine are coming together to overcome it.  A bird's eye view of the crash site makes clear what took hours to figure out from the ground.

"We're talking the thickest woods that Oklahoma has to offer are up there. More or less an urban no man's land, it is.  Mohawk Park is bigger than Central Park in New York," said EMSA director Kelly Deal.

And first responders say a winter storm only added to the problem.  Officer Jason Willingham says he and about 75 to 100 other responders from the City of Tulsa and Tulsa County didn't have much to go on.

"We knew it was north of the airport, but we really didn't have much to go off of, aside from that.   So at that point, you go in with your manpower and you start a grid search," said Tulsa Police Officer Jason Willingham.

That helped them locate the site, but footwork wasn't their only tool.  A Polaris all-terrain vehicle was also used.

"It's a six wheeled all-terrain vehicle that's able to crawl over logs and to places where vehicles and we just can't," said Tulsa Police Officer Jason Willingham.

He says the vehicles are mainly used for transporting.

 "Initially you're talking about you need generators for power, you need lights, you know all the search and rescue equipment to maybe free the victim," said Tulsa Police Officer Jason Willingham.