Calstar flight nurse Beth Frisby
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, CA - An off-duty Calstar flight nurse walking her dog stumbled upon the wreckage of a plane that had crashed minutes earlier and comforted the lone survivor until paramedics arrived.
Beth Frisby also called her husband, El Dorado County Sheriff's Deputy Damian Frisby, who used Beth's iPhone to pinpoint the location of the crash in National Forest land about a mile east of the South Lake Tahoe airport.
Pilot Steven Lefton, 67, was apparently killed upon impact as the 1963 Mooney clipped several pine trees and landed upside down Monday morning.
Lefton's wife, Karen, 67, was alert and pinned in the wreckage.
"I can't imagine what it would have been like for the pilot's wife, and how scary it would have been," Beth said.
The plane was leaking fuel, so Beth reached into the cockpit to turn off the ignition. She had previously responded to two plane crashes in her role as a flight nurse that had both resulted in fire.
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"There were no running parts but there were some noises, so I was concerned about the possibility of a fire," she said.
Beth said it was apparent she could do nothing to help Steven Lefton, so she focused her attention on his wife.
"I just talked to her to let her know that people were, in fact, coming-- and what to expect once they got there," Beth recalled the conversation. "They would cut apart the plane and her job was to stay as calm as she possibly could and to try to stay still."
The first El Dorado County sheriff's unit arrived four minutes later, followed by the first paramedics.
Beth's colleagues at Calstar, based at South Lake Tahoe, arrived 18 minutes after the crash and landed in a meadow a short walk from the wreckage.
Karen Lefton was flown to Renown Hospital in Reno, where she was said to be improving.
"I would love to meet her and express my condolences to her," Beth said. "Her husband died and she kept asking about her husband and I felt so bad, I didn't-- I couldn't confirm if he was gone or not."
Deputy Damian Frisby said family members told him Steven Lefton had 40 years of flying experience.
The federal investigation into the cause of the crash is continuing.
by George Warren, GWarren@news10.net