Monday, July 15, 2013

Into the Abyss by Carol Shaben

Into the Abyss: An Extraordinary True Story, Carol Shaben.  New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2012 and 2013.  e-book, 295 pps. with footnotes, bibliography, and pictures.

Four men survived a snowy plane crash in 1984.  Six passengers died.  The plane was a small commuter plane that was flying in Northern Alberta on an icy and snowy night.  The author Carol Shaben is the daughter of one of the survivors.  Larry Shaben is a politician.  The other three survivors are the young pilot Eric Vogel, a cop by the name of Scott Deschamps and his prisoner Paul Archambault.  Carol Shaben's dad never talked much about the crash.  So she had to find out from the others what happened.

The pilot worked for a small company.  The pressure was on to deliver, to fly in all kinds of weather regardless of safety issues, to keep the little planes running.  So in spite of his misgivings, Eric Vogel flew the commuter plane as scheduled.  A series of mishaps added up to the disaster.  The four spent a bit of time out in the snow near the wrecked hull of the plane until rescue came.  

Once rescue came, things did not go back to the way they were before.  There was a brutal inquisition ahead for the pilot and the company.  The prisoner went on to some hard times.  He managed to clean up his life a bit but in the end, it wasn't enough.  The four survivors continued a friendship of sorts.  Even so, their lives remained touched by the tragedy.

sapphoq reviews says:  Carol Shaben has researched and written an excellent book about the plane crash that her father and three other men survived.  Although it dragged in places out of necessity-- certain aviation regs have to be explained to the general audience in order to make sense of the aftermath-- Into the Abyss offers a snapshot of four lives frozen in time long after they emerged from the wilderness.  For those who like true stories about survival, highly recommended.  

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