A teen driving a tractor on a cherry orchard in Washington state became an unexpected hero last week after he rescued a pilot – and himself – from near death when the 39-year-old’s helicopter came crashing out of the sky onto him.
For 19-year-old Logan Schneider, Wednesday morning at his brother’s cherry orchard in Turtle Rock, Washington – about 150 miles east of Seattle – began like any other.
He’d plugged in his noise-cancelling headphones and then hopped onto his tractor and set to work in the early hours of 7 July.
Then, as he told NCWLIFE in an interview shortly after the incident, he heard a loud noise from above, and before he had time to process what was occurring, there was a helicopter falling out from the sky, directly above him.
“I look up, and I see the helicopter hit the power line, and then it comes crashing down, and it hit me on the tractor and pinned me against the steering wheel,” Mr Schneider told NCWLIFE.
Despite being pinned against his own machine, the recent high school graduate told KREM that he managed to free himself from his seat only to realise that the pilot of the crashed helicopter was now stuck himself but was hanging upside down.
“I heard him screaming,” he told KREM. “I looked and I saw him upside down hanging. Fire was everywhere. When I was in the moment I really wasn’t thinking. I was just doing.”
The Orondo Fire Association said in a Facebook post that they responded to the accident at approximately 9.20am on Wednesday morning. Upon arrival, they discovered the helicopter and the tractor both on fire from the crash.
“Firefighters initial efforts were hindered by difficult access and high voltage power lines,” the department wrote. “Once the power lines were de-energized firefighters extinguished the fire on both the tractor and helicopter.”
The teen, who celebrated his birthday two days after the terrifying ordeal, said that both he and the pilot sustained minor injuries, and the Orondo Fire Department confirmed in their statement that they transported both men to Central Washington Hospital for treatment.
“The initial investigation showed the helicopter struck high voltage power lines careening into a cherry orchard where it struck a tractor and sprayer upon impact that were operating in the orchard,” the fire department said.
The teen told KING 5 News that he remains floored by the ordeal, noting in an interview that the of them both escaping the accident with just minor injuries seemed highly unlikely.
“It’s one in a million, I’d say,” the 19-year-old said.
For the two men, they discovered in the aftermath that they shared more than just the near-death experience with each other.
“The craziest thing about the whole situation is the pilot and I share the same birthday. I just thought it was so bizarre,” he added.
The 19-year-old had previously arranged to begin flight school in the fall, and those plans, he confirmed to KING 5, remain on track, despite the terrifying aviation-related accident he underwent just days before his birthday.