Lawsuit filed over Eagle airport accident |

Lawsuit filed over Eagle airport accident

Chad Abraham

ASPEN – A Woody Creek man is suing two Aspen aviation companies and two local pilots after the private plane he was in slid off a runway at the Eagle airport and caught fire.The lawyer for Mark Hudgens said the July 15 accident left his client disabled and bedridden for months with spinal cord injuries. Named as defendants are Aspen Base Operations, Aspen Aviation, pilot Warren Levine of Aspen and co-pilot Gilbert Wright of Carbondale. The lawsuit alleges that Hudgens, who was traveling with a nurse, “was left crippled in the burning wreckage … while the pilot and co-pilot abandoned him and ran from the wreckage for their own safety.” Levine had a different version of events.”Both pilots were not the first people out of the airplane,” he said. “After the accident, the main cabin door was opened by the co-pilot, and he assisted the two passengers out of the airplane. I was actually the last one out of the airplane.”It was reported at the time of the crash that Hudgens hired the Learjet to fly him to Eagle because he was receiving treatment at the Edwards cancer center. But his lawyer, Clay Robbins of Los Angeles, would not discuss the reasons for the flight, which began at Aspen’s Sardy Field.Levine said it was not an air ambulance flight, but simply a chartered trip.”We’re not licensed to be an air ambulance carrier,” he said. When asked about why the plane skidded off the runway, he mentioned that the National Transportation Safety Board’s investigation of the accident is not complete. An agency spokeswoman confirmed that, saying the results of the investigation results will be released soon. Still, Levine has his own ideas about what happened.”Based on what the airplane did, I would say there was some mechanical discrepancy that caused the airplane to veer off the runway,” he said.Robbins said the NTSB is looking into a number of scenarios that could have led to the incident, including the possibility that the plane “was coming in too fast and landed too hard,” he said.Both Aspen Base Operations and Aspen Aviation were sold in October. Aspen Base Operations was sold to Texas-based Trajen FBO Network. Chad Farischon, general manager of Trajen FBO at Sardy Field, said the company did not assume any liabilities relating to Aspen Base Operations or Aspen Aviation.Cliff Runge, one of the owners of Aspen Base Operations when it was sold and the founder of Aspen Aviation, was not available to comment. Aspen Base Operations provided fuel and maintenance for aircraft; Aspen Aviation was a charter jet service.Vail, Colorado

Support Local Journalism