FREMONT – A Fremont man is relearning how to walk after a helicopter crash this summer nearly claimed his life. Instead, it put him in multiple hospitals for months of medical intervention. This weekend, he and his friends are hosting a chili feed benefit to help support this recovery process.
Four people were on a sight-seeing helicopter over the Backwoods Music Festival at Mulberry Mountain last summer. When it crashed, three people lost their lives: Chuck Dixon, Marco Ornelas and Sarah Hill. Zach Petersen, a Fremont resident and sole survivor of the crash, was a passenger in the helicopter when it went down somewhere in the Ozark National Forest.
After the helicopter crashed, it was Zach who struggled his way to a phone that had been tossed from the wreckage. He called 9-1-1 nearly 10 times, allowing the authorities to get a GPS ping from his location, despite a spotty connection. More than anything, he just wanted to see his two young sons again.
Zach estimates the helicopter fell 1,000 feet, causing significant injuries to his lower right leg and hip. “I had a compound fracture to my tibia and fibula on my right side. I had extensive damage to my hip. I snapped my pelvis in half. I broke three ribs, collapsed both lungs, ruptured my spleen and had pneumonia.”
After Zach was stabilized, he was able to come closer to home, recovering at Madonna Rehabilitation in West Omaha. Though he’s now at home, the father of two is still relearning many of the physical skills he had before the crash – like walking.
To support Zach, the public is invited to the Izaak Walton Park at 2560 W Military Ave in Fremont, Saturday November 2nd from 2PM to 10PM. There will be a silent auction, raffles, a split-the-pot cash raffle, Kids Zone with games & activities, and of course – plenty of chili and other treats. Entertainment throughout the day will be provided by High Roller Productions.