'Hero' Mom Who Survived Plane Crash Left Dying Baby to Find Help

Heartbreaking 65

alaska plane crashA tragic plane crash has earned a mom from Alaska accolades for being a "hero" this week, but the honor is more than a little bittersweet. Melanie Coffee was trying to perform CPR on her dying baby after the Hageland Aviation Cessna 208 turboprop crash, but after calling for help, she realized help wasn't going to make it unless she did something. Coffee left her little boy and the eight other passengers and struck out in the Alaskan winter to get help.

Her decision would force her to walk nearly a mile (one way) in fog and freezing cold to get to rescue workers. Because the area wasn't reachable by snowmobile, Coffee then had to walk back with the rescuers to lead them to the crash site.

So what is it that makes Coffee a hero?

Is it that she struck out, alone and injured, to help others? Yes, of course.

But it's more than that.

Coffee was forced to make the decision of whether she stay with her dying baby or leave. Neither option was really a good one ... not for her. But she had to chance it. She had to take the risk that by leaving she might save her son, Wyatt, herself, and as many as eight other people. 

She had to measure whether she was worth more to her child if she was there with him or away from him.

In many ways her decision goes against a parent's instinct to leave. When our babies cry, it is us who can comfort them best. When they are hurt, it is us they want. And when faced with the choice of fight or flight, for our kids, we are inclined to choose fight.

But sometimes, fighting for our kids means backing off, walking away, finding someone else who can help us. Sometimes being your child's best advocate means knowing you can't do it all.

Melanie Coffee made the brave choice here.

Sadly, it only helped so much. In the end, six passengers -- including Melanie Coffee and a 14-year-old child -- were rescued. Four perished, including 5-month-old Wyatt Coffee.

Have you ever had to make the hard decision to walk away from your child in order to get them the help they needed? What happened?


Image via Alaska State Troopers

airplanes, accidents, baby first year


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Terri ZombieStomper Hanners

No mention of why she couln't have carried her 5 month old child WITH her to find help? I certainly would have found a way to take him to help. I don't know what the situations were so I am certainly not judging, just wondering why that never crossed her mind.

Stephanie Rhodes

My heart and prayers go out to that mother and those passengers. I could not even imagine being in her shoes. She had to take that chance to save her son. And if any of you start bashing her because she left her son to find help, Shame on you. What would you do? Would you take your dying child out in the blistering cold and raise his chances more of him dying and even yourself? She had to do something and she did what she thought was best and yes she still lost her child but in the same process saved other lives. I know it cant replace your child. But before bashing her think about what she is going through.


Stephanie Rhodes

Terri when someone is seriously hurt the LAST thing you do is move them. If there is head, neck, or spine injury you can kill them. She did the right thing.


Laura Zinke

My heart breaks for this mother and those families that lost loved ones. I hope she can find some form of peace and healing. Healing light and love for all involved.

Tyson Fricker

I hope this wasn't a lap child. The FAA needs to discontinue the lap child policy. It's already killed several children and I hope we aren't seeing that the policy has claimed yet another victim.

Erika Murray

This is definitely a situation where you can't imagine what you would do unless you were involved.

I hope this mother is able to find solace and peace.

Terri ZombieStomper Hanners

You are right Stephanie Rhodes. I didn't think of that. That is one reason I won't judge people in these articles. No one really knows the full extent of the situation because they were not in it. I know I would have had a difficult time with that one. She is one strong woman!

nonmember avatar Meagan Sullivan

Well I had an terrifying situation. But I did the opposite. Mylittle boy wasntwasn't dying but.... Almost 2 years ago I was 7 months pregnant with my 18 month old in the back of the car because we were picking up my now ex husband. As I was waiting for him to get out my phone rings. It was my mom. She told me in tears tbt I has to lock the car and get away asap. I had no idea what was going on but soon found out from a Dr who got on the phone shortly after that my husband had raped my sisters 14 month old daughter. They told me I had to protect my kids so as he gets to the car door I lock it slam it in reverse and drive like a bat outta hell to my dads. We later found out from the police he was planning on killing Mr ans my son so we didn't find out what he had done. So I'm happy I chose flight sometimes it really does work out.

monke... monkeymom1104

Beautiful article. Sad and tragic, yet very well written. A scenario I hope I would never have to face; not strong enough. :(

nonmember avatar Juley

Being an Alaskan myself I understand it, my husband told me about her before I read this. It was foggy and cold. I'm sure she probably didn't even know is she could find help. She more than likely thought if she got lost in the fog, the plane is still going to get found. The terrain here is so unpredictable, she is braver than me, that's for sure!

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