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Survivors film their own near-death plane crash

Online viewers have been captivated by dramatic video recently posted to YouTube showing how close a group of men came to death after their small plane crashed in the remote wilderness of Idaho back in June.  WNBC's Tom Llamas reports.

The four survivors of a plane crash in central Idaho can prove just how close they came to death on June 30, with a seven-minute video documenting their harrowing experience, including the bloody aftermath.

The video, which has gone viral online, was captured by two cameras, and posted weeks after the ordeal so the men's friends and family could see what happened. 

One passenger, Nathan Williams, 38, told The Associated Press on Thursday that he and his friends are "just four guys who are lucky to be alive." 

The dramatic footage shows the plane taking off from a dirt runway in the Bear Valley area, where the men had spent the day hiking in the wilderness. Williams said they were headed to McCall for dinner.

About 2 minutes and 40 seconds into the video, the plane begins to lower and then crashes into trees. As the shot becomes blocked by the wreckage, a man is heard asking, "Everybody OK?"

"Within five seconds we're on the ground, upside down, hanging from our seat belts," passenger Tol Gropp, the pilot's son, said.

He and another passenger, Alec Arhets, escaped with cuts and bruises. Williams suffered a concussion, while the pilot, Les Gropp, 70, had a broken jaw, broken ribs and a fractured cheekbone. 

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One passenger, Nathan Williams, 38, said he and his friends are "just four guys who are lucky to be alive."


He is expected to make a full recovery.

"You certainly feel like we were watched over that day," Tal Gropp said, adding that his father is credited with grounding the plane without loss of life.

Several minutes later, one of the men is shown retrieving the camera, which films the pilot lying on the ground with his head resting on a log and his face and arm covered in blood. His eye appears blackened and the wreckage of the Stinson 108-3 is in the background.

The men suspect the plane had a difficult time gaining altitude because of warming temperatures. They think it may have hit an air pocket that made it rapidly lose altitude, pushing it down into the trees.

"The first time you see it it's kind of surreal because it's full speed, you know, it's seven seconds, it's not very much time," Tal Gropp said. "Probably watched it a couple of hundred times." 

As of Friday morning, the video of the plane crash had more than 370,000 views and had been played more than 1.3 million times on the website LiveLeak, where it was shared two day ago. [Editor's note: The video contains graphic images some viewers might find disturbing.]

Williams told the AP he understands why people are intrigued, while Tal Gropp muses: "It's surreal that I was actually one of the people in the plane."

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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