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Friday morning June 26 started off as a beautiful day for flying for Denver couple, Janet and Mark Kolber.
The couple left Centennial Airport, just south of Metro Denver, in their small private plane. They were headed to Vernal, Utah, for a Colorado Pilots Association (CPA) weekend recreation event for a fun group river-rafting trip and barbecue in Vernal.
About 25 CPA pilots, spouses and friends were all headed out to Vernal on that same June morning — leaving from various airports in Colorado — hoping to converge at Vernal Airport all within a few hours of each other so they could begin the CPA weekend activities.
For Janet and Mark, their flight from Centennial Airport started off well. The couple loves the mountains. Mark is a certified flight instructor, teaching flying in his spare time.
Mark has logged a good deal of mountain flying time since the couple moved from New England to Denver in 1992. Their early morning flight took them from Denver over the Front Range, flying over the beautiful Steamboat Springs area.
They flew directly over Hayden airport under clear skies.
Mark had planned and prepared that part of their trip en route to Vernal would be “by instruments,” meaning they would be flying through clouds before reaching their final destination.
Shortly after passing over Hayden and continuing west, they were in the clouds. It was a pretty routine flight for Mark, and Janet was just enjoying the ride, casually reading the newspaper.
Then, the unexpected happened — their aircraft began losing altitude. Mark immediately radioed air traffic control to declare an emergency, asking for assistance and decided that he needed to get to the nearest airport as soon as possible.
The two closest airports were located in Clark and Rangely. Mark consulted with air traffic control and determined that Rangely was the best choice for a landing.
They had about a 20-mile ride ahead of them.
Mark calmly drew upon all his years of training and experience, preparing to make a safe approach and landing.
For Janet, this was a very frightening ride, and she just prayed over and over again, holding her breath.
Fortunately, Mark executed a smooth landing at Rangely Airport. As they taxied to a stop, Janet was in shock. Mark called 911. An ambulance was dispatched to the airport.
That is when Janet fell into the able hands of the Rangely District Hospital ambulance team led by Shanna Kinney, ambulance manager, with her two team members. With great skill and expertise, these three professionals quickly got Janet to the emergency room where she was treated by Dr. Timothy Hsu with the compassionate assistance of Nurse Karen White.
The entire emergency room staff was involved and engaged in helping Janet come out of shock.
Once the couple safely returned to Denver, Janet was in touch with hospital executive assistant, Cindy Henshaw.
Janet told Cindy how grateful she and her husband are for the wonderful caring and compassionate treatment they both received.
The couple wishes to honor Shanna Kinney, Nurse Karen White and Dr. Timothy Hsu by making a joint gift to both the ambulance service and the hospital’s emergency room in the amount of $1,000.
Janet Kolber said “My husband Mark and I always enjoy giving back when extraordinary people do extraordinary work in an extraordinary way. Thank you to everyone who saved the day. We are eternally grateful to all of you.”