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Rescued Pilot and Passenger on Road to Recovery

Mar. 26, 1963 - Pilot Ralph Flores and Helen Klaben bounced back today from the effects of their seven-week ordeal in the sub-zero Canadian wilds. A physician said they can leave for home as soon as they wish. Home to Miss Klaben, 21, is Brooklyn. For Flores, 42-year-old flier and electrician, it is San Bruno, Calif. Dr. Nesta James said despite the fractures, malnutrition, and exposure that stemmed from the crash of Flores’ private plane on a British Columbia mountainside Feb. 4, they are in shape to travel. The doctor added that gangrene in Miss Klaben’s broken right foot is not so severe as first feared, though she may lose one or two toes. These remarks contributed to a happy ending when pilot Chuck Hamilton sighted an SOS Flores had stamped out in the snow and launched the rescue operations that landed Flores and the girl in a Whitehorse hospital. “God must have decided it was time for us to be saved,” said Miss Klaben, smiling after the battle with hunger and cold had cut her normally plump figure to less than 100 lbs. “I had faith we were going to be found,” said Flores, father of six. He suffered a broken nose, broken jaw, and frostbite on two toes. They had only a fire, Flores’ Bible, and a book of Robert W. Service’s poems for comfort after exhaustion of their food supplies — two cans of fruit, two cans of sardines, and two tubes of toothpaste. Doctors said they doubted either could have lived another week. “I did not lose hope,” said Miss Klaben. “The only thing I felt was not being able to understand why the Lord was keeping us so long. After our ordeal, I now have a belief in God I never thought possible. I don’t think we ever would have been found until I understood why we crashed. Ralph and I both needed time to think over our lives. Ralph was wonderful. Never once did he lose faith. His faith set the example for me to follow all my life.” Flores said he always keeps his Bible with him, and both he and Miss Klaben read it constantly. He is a Mormon lay preacher; she is Jewish.


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