CLEAR CREEK COUNTY — Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board said Monday afternoon they found another body at the Loveland Ski Area plane crash site, upping the number of fatalities to three.
Capt. Randy Long, of the Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Office, made the announcement at about 2:30 p.m. Monday from the parking lot on the Loveland Valley side of the ski resort.
PLANE TOTALLY DESTROYED
NTSB officials joined Sheriff’s Office investigators and the Clear Creek County coroner just after noon at the crash site. The victims have not yet been identified. The plane also has not been identified because it was totally destroyed in the crash, Long said.
It is still unclear where the plane had taken off from and what its destination may have been, added Sgt. Matt Brown, also of the Sheriff’s Office.
NTSB is leading the investigation and will release additional information as it develops in coordination with the Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Office, Long said. The focus of the investigation going into the afternoon hours Monday was identifying the victims and the plane.
The crash was called in at about 8:45 a.m. by a hiker who witnessed the crash. The hiker was the only witness.
HIKER’S ACCOUNT OF CRASH
According to the hiker’s accounts, as restated by Brown, the single-engine plane was seen ascending west over Loveland Ski Area towards Loveland Pass. The plane then banked back towards Denver, lost power and crashed near the top of Chair 5 at Loveland Valley.
Long said the plane immediately burst into flames when it crashed Monday morning. The fire was burning a 40-by-40-foot area in the trees on Loveland Valley. A wildland helicopter was called in from Fort Collins to assist with containment efforts, but it wasn’t put into service. 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 that time Sheriff’s Office investigators and the coroner were allowed to inspect the crash site, 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.
Summit Daily News Staff Writer Alli Langley contributed to this report.