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Father, daughter found alive after small plane crash in Luzerne County

The search began Sunday night in Bear Creek Township.

BEAR CREEK TOWNSHIP, PA — A father and daughter are found alive in the woods in Luzerne County after their small plane crashed Sunday night.

State police say it's a miracle that both the 58-year-old father and his 13-year-old daughter survived the crash.

It took hours of searching overnight to find them. Their plane went down on Sunday night about a half-mile into the woods in Bear Creek Township between Bald Mountain Road and Suscon Road.

State police in Wilkes-Barre were contacted by the FAA Sunday night around 8:40 p.m. that a plane had dropped off their radar after a rapid descent, but it was difficult to get a specific location.

State police tell us the plane went down around 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, but officials thought it had landed in Monroe County. Once the U.S. Air Force got involved, they determined the plane was actually in Luzerne County, so the search began closer to 9 p.m.

They were able to ping the dad's phone and the girl's iPad, which led them directly to the crash site.

Emergency crews found them huddled together for warmth. Both were in what police called a pre-hypothermic state.

"The daughter saves both of them by using her iPad, and her dad was cuddling the daughter to give her warmth because they were both exposed to the elements and were suffering from hypothermia at the time," Sgt. John Richards of the Pennsylvania State Police.

During the search, snow hindered visibility, and police couldn't use infrared -- it was so cold that the plane had cooled off, and the father and daughter's heat was not detected.

Sgt. Richards called it a miracle. 

"I've been a state trooper 28 years, and this is the first time that I've had a plane crash of this type where anybody survived, let alone two people survived."

Both were taken to a hospital.

"The truth is I never expected to find two people alive, never expected that. Thought this was going to be a fatal accident. In 28 years, any accident I've handled, this type, that's what it's turned out to be. Nobody was more surprised than when I looked at them in their eyes, and they looked at me and start talking. Nobody was more surprised than me," Sgt. Richards said. "The hands of God, I'm not trying to be you evasive of your question, but the only reason why those two were alive is because of God's presence. And the only way I can explain it is because there has to be a higher being that was taking care of them."

Police say the plane had taken off from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport.

The FAA is looking into what caused the plane to go down.

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