2 Pueblo County lawmen killed in plane crash
September 1, 2012
PUEBLO – Two Pueblo County lawmen were killed Friday in a small plane crash while searching the southern Colorado mountains for evidence of an illegal marijuana grow.
Sheriff’s office spokeswoman Lisa Shorter said they were a Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office employee and a retired Pueblo city police officer. Their names were not immediately available.
Shorter said the retired policeman was flying the single-engine Piper Super Cruiser, which left Pueblo Memorial Airport Friday at about 8 a.m. Airport officials lost contact with the plane at about 9:30 a.m., she said. The weather was clear at the time.
Smoke was spotted on Greenhorn Mountain in San Isabel National Forest in Custer County. Shorter said that more than four dozen searchers on the ground were combing the area and discovered the wreckage on the mountain at about 10,000 feet. Both men were dead.
It was not immediately sure whether the pilot was volunteering his time or working for the department.
Shorter said the sheriff’s department was heartsick about the wreck.
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“It’s very difficult for all of our guys,” she said. “Sheriff (Kirk) Taylor was a close personal friend of both of those guys.”
A recovery team was headed to the site Friday night, Shorter said.
“That terrain is really steep and rocky,” she said. Federal investigators were expected at the site Saturday to determine the cause of the crash.
The plane was searching for evidence of an illegal marijuana grow, Shorter said. Two large grows were discovered in the area on Aug. 15. Authorities used a high-intensity furnace at Pueblo’s Evraz steel plant to destroy about 14,000 plants.
Shorter did not know whether the crash victims had spotted the earlier grows.