Pilot Survives Overnight In Snow Cave

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Scott Thurner, 57, of Milwaukee, was flying his Cessna 172 from Laughlin, Nev., to Paonia, Colo., last Wednesday when he crashed in rough terrain about 30 miles from Montrose, Colo. He had reportedly descended to stay below clouds and found himself in a canyon with no way out. Thurner was unhurt, other than minor cuts and bruises, and survived a 30-hour wait in the cold by putting on all the ski clothes from his suitcase and digging into the snow. "He called the first little snow cave Motel 6. Then he dug a bigger one and called it the Holiday Inn," Civil Air Patrol pilot Mark Young told The Montrose Daily Press. "Luckily, he had the smarts not to try to go anywhere, because in that deep of snow, he wouldn't have made it very far." Rescuers had received a signal Wednesday from the Cessna's emergency locator transmitter, but were unable to begin an aerial search until Thursday because of the heavy cloud cover. Thurner reportedly shut off the beacon during the night to conserve its battery. "If we wouldn't have found him yesterday, his battery would be dead and he probably would've frozen to death waiting for help," Young said. "He's very lucky." The Cessna was less fortunate. "It looked just like if you put a can on the ground and stomped the thing. I can't even describe the carnage of that plane,'' Troy Wallace, a rescuer, told The Associated Press.