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"Sewing Circles of Herat"
by Christina Lamb

June 17, 2008


Date: June 17, 1989
Publication: Anchorage Daily News (AK)
Page: C1

A single engine airplane carrying two children and two adults apparently ran out of fuel and crashed into Cook Inlet Friday. Searchers had found no trace of the plane Friday evening. The pilot of the tan Piper PA22 radioed a mayday at about 12:55 p.m., saying he was going to ditch the craft in the water near the West Forelands, according to Sgt. Tom Sumey of the Alaska State Troopers in Soldotna. “He said he had run out of fuel,” Sumey said.

Thus it was, 19 years ago yesterday, that our family suddenly, inexplicably, and dramatically lost our niece, Michele. The words of the article in the newspaper give just the facts. They don’t tell you about our lovely Michele. She had been working at the Solid Rock Bible Camp near Soldotna, Alaska, doing the cooking for a week. She actually worked at the City Hall in Soldotna but she was doing this job at the camp as a ministry. As is common in Alaska, she and two little girls, as well as the pilot, were coming back to Soldotna by small private plane. As I understand it, headwinds came up and kept the plane from making headway and used up the fuel. The father of one of one of the little girls was with the FAA and heard the May Day call on the radio. There was nothing those on land could do. The plane went down in Cook Inlet and was never seen again. Neither the plane nor the bodies of the passengers were recovered.

Michele had just gotten engaged and was looking forward to a life with her fiancé. Her life had already been full of service and giving. She had served in Japan and had done other ministries. She loved being in Alaska close to her sister and her niece and nephew. She was the one who called her mom and Dad most often and she was faithful in communicating with Grandparents and extended family. I had several precious notes from her that I sent to my sister, to comfort her.

When Michele’s parents, my sister Lyla, and her husband, Cliff, went to Alaska, they wanted to see where the plane had gone down. Patti drove them up to a cliff where they could look down the length of Cook Inlet. There were low clouds and the view of the spot was obscured. As they watched, the clouds cleared and a single golden ray of sunlight shone directly on the spot where the plane went down. A gentleman came up to them to ask them to leave since they were on private property but when he heard why they were there, he told them his story. He was a helicopter pilot for the oil company that owned that property. That day he was down at a rig close to the place where the plane went in. He heard the mayday call and immediately was up in the air and saw where the plane had gone in. There were just bubbles and a little debris. It was gone.

Later, the father of one of the little girls (they were both 12) wanted to see if he could hear his daughter’s voice on the radio transmission. He listened and he heard Michele telling the girls, just before they went down, “Jesus is with us. Jesus is right here.”

Michele kept a Bible in her desk at work. When Patti retrieved it they found a bookmark and a verse which Michele had marked. It was Psalms 139:9. The Berkeley Translation of verse 9 and following reads:

If I were to take the wings of the dawn and dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
Even there Thy hand would lead me and Thy right hand would take hold of me.
If I should say, “Surely the darkness will cover me,”
then the night would become light around me;
for even darkness does not hide from Thee.
but night is as bright as the day;
darkness is the same as light to Thee.

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