Hiker who found plane crash meets lived survivor

June 22, 2013 12:25:02 AM PDT
Action News first pieced together a decades old plane crash mystery last November.

At the time, we traveled to Roanoke, Virginia to visit a pastor who survived in the High Sierra in 1971.

The North Valley school teacher who found the wreckage during an August hike finally met the man who escaped certain death. The special bond shared by Salida school teacher Laurel Peterson and Reverend Jon Harris was strengthened by a face to face meeting in Virginia.

Peterson will never forget the images she came across while hiking in the Sierra National Forest above Huntington Lake. She found plane wreckage from a US Navy T-28. The pilot was killed but Peterson was relieved to learn someone actually survived the crash.

"I really want to meet him very bad. It makes the whole thing better for me because I was upset over what I had found, " said Peterson.

This week Laurel traveled to Roanoke to meet the crash survivor, Reverend Jon Harris. Harris explained, "You finished up that first report saying we had to meet and yes, this is an element of tying the loose threads together."

Peterson added, "It's very exciting, finally. Great to see someone I've wondered about and read about in person and alive."

The two looked over old pictures at Harris' home. Their meeting helped Laurel fully understand what happened that day. Had her hiking path took her 10 feet away in either direction she would have completed missed the crash site.

"It's the combination of a traumatic story that I ended up in on accident entirely. It's just very nice to meet Jon. Very nice to know he still alive. Very thankful he's still alive," said Peterson.

Harris and his wife Patti just celebrated their golden anniversary. His plane went down 42 years ago on July 2.

"Getting to have Laurel down here is just icing on the cake of all of these things that are going on. She is just as upbeat as she was on the TV and just seems to be a wonderful person," Patti said.

Laurel Peterson plans to get resettled in her Huntington Lake cabin. She was thrilled to have finally met Reverend Harris. Laurel loves long hikes in the wilderness and hopes she never comes across plane wreckage again.


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