Just to let my readers know I do read your comments. Go back to my last chapter and read the 2nd to last paragraph which is where this chapter begins. Thank you readers.
I covered her and watched over her again. I lay beside her and drifted off to sleep. Some time during the night ….
I awoke in a cold sweat and in a state of panic I screamed out “Erica!!”... I jumped up and put my hand on Erica.... she moved slightly... she was sleeping soundly … Thank God it was only a dream. I don't think I could have gone on if it had been real. I placed my hand on her forehead it was cool her fever had broken.
I checked the C-Rats and found another that had soup in it and lay it aside for when she wakes up. I knew I had to get her to a doctor I also knew that that there was no chance of rescue as long as we stayed where we are.
I inflated the life raft attached the motor. I began loading what supplies we could take with us I went through our clothes and took only what would fit in one bag I put our toiletries and underwear in our awol bags. I put the spare ammo into mine.
I heard Erica calling out to me. I rushed back inside the plane... she was trying to sit up. I helped her. I helped her out of the plane and helped her to Pee. She wanted to know what we were going to do. I explained that we had to try to get out on our on. It was next to impossible for the plane to be seen wrapped up in the trees.
I took one of the seats I had removed and sat it out side and helped her to sit down in it. When the soup was warm I poured it in to a canteen cup and gave it to her. I completed the loading of the raft. I took one of the parachutes and pulled out the canopy and spread ti out as well as I could on the limbs and brush.
I called to Dotty and told her what I had done with the chute. If they spotted the chute they would know this was the right lake and we had headed South. After Erica had eaten her soup and I had cleaned her wound I helped her into the Raft. We shoved off with the paddle, I prayed that the motor would start … I cranked an nothing, again, and again still nothing. I rested a minute and noticed a needle valve in the gas line I opened and tried again... It started on the 1st pull. I looked at Erica and she gave me a smile. We are headed south.
The lake we are on seems to be quite large on our left we are parallel to the shore. To our right we occasionally see an Island but other wise we can not see the other side of the lake nor the end to the south.. We have a breeze north to south, to conserve fuel I turn off the engine and use the paddle as a rudder.
It is nearing noon, I began aiming towards the shore line. When we landed I jumped out and pulled us higher on the shore. We took a bathroom break and I fixed us a lite lunch it was the 1st solid food Erica had had since we had gone down. She still wasn't saying very much I'm thinking it hurt her to talk. Also she only picked at her food.
I cleaned her wound, I felt it was beginning to do some good it didn't seem to be as inflamed as it had been. She looked like the strain was getting to her I decided not to travel any more to day. He pulled the raft up under some trees so Erica would not be in the direct sun any more today. After making sure she was alright. I took the 22 rifle and walked into the woods hoping to find a squirrel or a rabbit. I spotted a large Rabbit and just as I was getting ready to pull the trigger I heard a plane. I turned and ran to get back to the shoreline. I was heavyhearted because the plane was almost out of sight. The worry about Erica may have cost us our one chance of rescue.
Search headquarters Duluth
Carol had just arrived at Duluth Airport, The Search party Had a room near the Airport Lounge for convenience to food and refreshment s and access to Telephones . Dotty had briefed Carol on her flight. Carol talked with the rescue squad and described the area where the plane went down. They were in hopes that one of the brush jumpers would recognize the spot.
A couple of them commented that a lot of the lakes had the shallow Islands the closest one being Wild Rice Island a fare sized lake of over 2500 acres. It was just north of the Airport they would give it a flyby this afternoon.. The two pilots made their plan one of them would fly the eastern shore line while the other did a crisscross. Then they would do the other shore and reverse the crisscross coming back.
The grizzled old brush jumper, Roper, flying the shoreline run spotted something almost to the Northern end of the lake. He went lower it was a parachute. He radioed to his partner and he circled around and landed. He taxied up to the small Island and could see the plane nestled in the trees. He edged his plane upon the sand, got out and secured his plane. He called out but was not surprised when he didn't get an answer. He found quite a bit of blood in the co-pilot's seat and on the small jump suit he found on the floor.
He glanced to the wall beside the hatch and that is where he found the note.
“Wife badly injured. In Life Raft with One Horse Motor, headed South, shoreline to my left”
He radioed to his partner and to the airport. “Concentrate 'Wild Rice Lake' Found Plane. And Note pay close attention Eastern Shore.”
I thought about getting back on the lake to be see easier but it was starting to get dark and I already had a camp site. I built a fire on the shore, Just in case. Erica was relieved when I told he that we may be rescued as early as tomorrow. I got her as comfortable as I could then went back to gathering wood.
Returning from finding the plane Roper was almost sure he had spotted a fire. He thought this is a well trained man who thinks before acting. I think I can plan ahead for him. When Roper and Tobias his partner landed they rushed to Search headquarters. And laid out their plans. Roper says “I'm Betting his next stop is going to be at the point at the end of Miller road. I would suggest having an ambulance waiting there by 0830” At 0600 Roper and Tobias took off in Ropers plane.
At 0530 I was up, put out the fire and got the raft close to the water. I made Erica comfortable and shoved off . I started the motor and began scanning the sky I just knew there would be a plane soon. Near 0700 I heard the engine noise of a small plane it circled around us an waggled its wings then started to land ahead of us. Once it was on the water it taxied ahead to a point that jutted out into the lake.
It took awhile for us to reach the point but before we got there I could see flashing emergency lights. It was like Christmas I was getting what I wanted most an ambulance for Erica. The ambulance was backed in and the attendants had the gurney ready. The pilot and co-pilot of the floatplane were waiting and grabbed the line I threw them. They pulled us up a homemade boat ramp.
I assisted Erica to get out of the boat and on to the Gurney. I looked back at the pilots one of them said, “ Go with your Wife we will handle your things for you. “
They loaded Erica into the ambulance and I climbed in also. One of the attendants went to the front and got in the drivers seat and pulled out. The medic worked on Erica all the way to the hospital
by 1230 she was being wheeled into the Emergency room at Duluth Hospital.
They took her straight to X-Ray I over heard one of the Nurses say to a doctor that OR-3 was being prepped.
Eight hours later they brought her to her room, after 5 hours in surgery and 3 in recovery. The Doctor said that if I hadn't did all the things I did she would not have made. Starting with the head wound if I had not cleaned it as well as I did(which wasn't really good enough) and that was only about 75% successful. Her skull had a hairline crack
Her shoulder was not only broken but partially shattered. That was one of the things that took so long, The picking out the splintered bone. It was not certain she would ever have 100% use of her shoulder and her left arm. If I had not immobilized the arm and shoulder she might have lost it. They also checked on the baby and they were fine.
According to the Doctor she will be in the Hospital for at least 5 weeks then physical therapy for months.
I heard my name called and turned to look and a little angel flew into my arms. Maria with Mina right behind her Johan and Donald were bringing up the rear. Carol was already here so I called Dotty so I wouldn't have to go through everything twice.
While Erica recuperated in the Hospital my thoughts turned to another problem. I rented a work boat and a truck and a flatbed trailer. Drove to Miller road and launched the boat Donald went with me and Johan stayed with the Truck. I retraced my steps to the shallow island where I left the plane.
I backed up as close as I could, Donald jumped in the water and hauled the cable and attached it to the rear shackle on the tail of the plane I drop the boat anchors off the bow. Once the boat was secure I joined Donald at the plane we began the removal of the debris around the planes path. We had brought a chain saw with us and it was needed to cut off the limb that penetrated the wind screen. This was also the one that caused the damage to Erica.
I started the winch and the plane began to move backwards. I stopped the winch and told Donald to tie off the wheel. Once that was done he closed the hatch then got back aboard the boat. I moved the boat forward till the anchor chains were straight up and down then brought them aboard.
The pontoons were entering the water we checked them out to insure that they had no leaks. They seemed to be fine. We moved on a bit faster me watching ahead and Donald watching the plane. Our only regrets was the wings were so damaged they could not be salvaged.
When we arrived at the ramp on the point the boat trailer was already in the water all I had to do was to slack the cable and pull on to the trailer. Johan started the truck and pulled the work boat out of the water. Once it was far enough on land I restarted the winch and pulled the plane slowly up the ramp.
Once it was level we disconnected the work boats winch, drew it tight and locked it down. I pulled the boat out of the way and Johan backed the flat bed in position, lowered its loading ramp and released the flatbeds winch and hooked it up to the plane. Johan began drawing the plane on to the trailer.
Once it was on board the trailer we secured it to the trailer with chains. A section of a hanger had already been set aside for the Reconstruction of the plane. Johan dropped of the plane and he and Donald got in our rental station wagon and came to pick me up after I dropped off the work boat,
They dropped me off at the Hospital and they went to get their wives, I walked into Erica’s room. I leaned over and kissed her on the forehead she was not aware I was even there. The doctors were keeping her in an induced coma. I didn't actually understand why but it was something to do with her head wound.