Rafters rescue pilot in crash near Utah-Colorado border

MESA COUNTY, Colo. — A plane crash near Utah’s eastern border turned a pair of rafters into rescuers.

"We saw a plane fly low over the river and about 15, 20 minutes later we saw it crumpled up in a heap at the edge of the river,” said Max Meneley.

Meneley was rafting down the Colorado River east of Moab on Tuesday afternoon.  Meneley didn’t just spot the plane, he also found the pilot. Meneley and another rafter then paddled as fast as they could to reach the pilot.

“When we first showed up he was pretty clearly in shock so we got him onboard," said Meneley. "We actually covered him in a blanket for a while, while he kind of calmed down."

The Mesa County Sheriff’s Office identified the pilot as 59-year-old Guy Buchanan of Ramona, California.  He had some injuries from the crash and was in need of medical help.

“We appreciate the help of the [passersby] to take it upon themselves to help this individual, I think it may have made a difference for him,” said Megan Terlecky, a spokesperson for the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office.

With Buchanan on their raft, he and another rafter paddled downstream to Westwater, Utah.

Along the way, they managed to get a phone call through to 9-1-1.  By the time they arrived at the dock, a medical team and helicopter were already waiting.  Buchanan was flown to a hospital in Grand Junction, Colorado.  By Wednesday afternoon he had already been released.

“I’m just super glad he’s ok,” said Meneley.