Death toll now at 3 in Loveland Ski Area plane crash, investigators say |

Death toll now at 3 in Loveland Ski Area plane crash, investigators say

Joe Moylan

A single-engine airplane crash at Loveland Ski Area on Monday morning claimed the lives of three people, according to investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board.

A hiker witnessed the crash and called it in at about 8:45 a.m. Monday. The hiker told Clear Creek County law enforcement that the plane was ascending west over Loveland Ski Area towards Loveland Pass. The plane then banked back towards Denver, lost power and crashed a few terminals from the top of Chair 5 on the Loveland Valley side of the ski resort. The hiker is the only known witness.

The plane immediately burst into flames when it crashed, said Capt. Randy Long with the Clear Creek County Sheriff's Office. The fire was burning a 40-foot by 40-foot area in the trees a few hundred feet above the Loveland Valley parking lot. Long said the fire was mostly confined to the immediate area of the crash, was burning on the ground and was not in danger of spreading to nearby trees.

The fire was contained at about 11:15 a.m., at which point sheriff's office investigators and the Clear Creek County coroner were allowed to inspect the crash site, Long said. Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board joined first responders shortly after noon.

The victims and the plane had not been identified by press time Monday, but Long said that was a top priority as investigators worked into the late afternoon hours. Identifying the victims and aircraft was slow going, Long said, because the plane was completely destroyed in the crash.

It's also still unclear where the plane had taken off from and what its destination may have been, authorities said.

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The National Transportation Safety Board is leading the investigation and will release additional information as it develops in coordination with the Clear Creek County Sheriff's Office, Long said.

Officials with the Federal Aviation Administration also have been notified of the crash.

Representatives from the sheriff's office were joined by first responders from the Clear Creek County Fire Authority, Clear Creek Ambulance, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the Colorado Department of Transportation and the U.S. Forest Service. Loveland Ski Patrol and other resort staffers also responded to the crash and offered to assist in a support role.

First responders do not think the crash resulted in any damage to the ski lift. No other injuries have been reported.

Alli Langley contributed to this report.

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