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Valley pilot shares incredible story after surviving crash

Posted at 10:27 PM, Jun 28, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-29 15:18:06-04

A Valley man is sharing his remarkable story after surviving a plane crash last week. 

Pilot Sam Moeller, who is a Phoenix-based attorney, is bandaged and recovering from three broken vertebrae but still has his sense of humor. 

"I joined a very exclusive club these last couple weeks," Moeller said of surviving the crash. "I'm proud of it."

Moeller was piloting a Cirrus SR22 last Tuesday with his friend, who works in IT, and they were on their way from Scottsdale to an office in Lake Havasu City. Moeller says he rented a plane, as his was undergoing repairs. Northwest of Wickenburg, Moeller told ABC15 there was a problem with the oil temperature and pressure. 

"The plane starts violently shuttering," Moeller said. " going on? This is something I haven't encountered before."

Moeller says he wanted to land the plane, but Prescott was too far away and making it to Wickenburg wasn't an option. 

"I'm looking forward and I've got mountains in front of me," Moeller said. "I cannot hold altitude. We are not going to make it over those...mountains."

Moeller told ABC15 the plane's engine died and he triggered the plane's parachute and braced for impact as the Cirrus SR22 started descending. 

"I look over at Kenny and go, 'hey man, this is going to hurt," he said. 

Seconds later, the plane crashed in the desert. 

"It was like hitting a brick wall," Moeller said. "It hurt. I knew I broke my back when we hit it."

Moeller says after escaping the plane, it caught fire. Kendall was able to walk away uninjured, while Moeller suffered three fractured vertebrae. 

"I'm trying to put the plane down," Moeller said. "I did what I could."

After the crash, he turned to his friend.  

"You're a member of a very exclusive class of people," Moeller said, laughing. "You survived a plane crash, bro."

Moeller told ABC15 he is likely done piloting planes.