Breckenridge couple’s family members die in plane crash |

Breckenridge couple’s family members die in plane crash

BRECKENRIDGE – Seven people – including the son and three grandchildren of a Breckenridge couple – were killed Sept. 2 when the small plane they were in crashed shortly after takeoff in Swanzey, N.H.

Victims included Steve and Julia Gruver of Lafayette, La.; he is the son of Jan and Henry Gruver, who have a second home in Breckenridge.

Julia Gruver was 47; her husband was 45. Their three children, Amanda, 15, and 13-year-old twins, Sarah and Elizabeth, were also killed in the crash, as were Julia Gruver’s parents, George and Julia Coyle, both 77, of Charleston, W.Va.

According to Associated Press reports, Julia Coyle was the daughter of Homer Holt, the 20th governor of West Virginia, who held office from 1937 to 1941.

The family recently spent 10 days in Summit County celebrating the twins’ birthday July 18.

According to Jan Gruver, reached at her home in Dallas, the seven were visiting Julia’s brother, Clay Coyle, in Newfane, Vt. Swanzey is in the southwest corner of New Hampshire. Steve Gruver, said by friends to be an experienced pilot, was flying the plane at the time of the crash.

Gruver said the twin-engine Beech Baron took off uneventfully from Keene’s Dillant-Hopkins Airport in Swanzey. But the engines began to sputter when the plane was about 200 feet in the air. Steve Gruver apparently tried to return to the airport, when the plane went down in a fireball in nearby woods.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the accident. Initial reports indicate the plane might have been carrying too many passengers or something might have contaminated the fuel, causing engine failure.

Steve Gruver was a petroleum engineer and general manager for Ensco drilling operations; his wife was a homemaker with a law degree from West Virginia University. She also served on the board of directors for the Lafayette Ballet Theatre-Dance Conservatory.

Amanda was a sophomore in high school and wanted to become a surgeon; her younger sisters were enrolled in an arts academy at a middle school and played violin and participated in gymnastics.

Services for the family members will be held Sept. 8 in Charleston, W.Va., and again Sept. 15 in Lafayette, La.

Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 228 or

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