Plane crash victims draw huge support
But friends of Aubel say such heroics are natural to the outgoing and generous Edwards man.
“He’s a very brave man,” says Cindy Callicrate. “To hike five miles with a broken leg doesn’t surprise me. He’s always thinking about others.”
Aubel, a Xerox representative who works for High County Copiers in Eagle-Vail, was piloting a single-engine plane that took off from Eagle County Regional Airport at 8:30 a.m., Thursday.
The plane crashed later that morning in a remote meadow near Sweetwater Lake, several miles northwest of Dotsero. Aubel suffered serious burns and a broken leg but walked for about an hour until he found a group of fishermen, who called for help.
Aubel was then taken to an ambulance and flown to the burn ward at a Denver hospital Thursday afternoon. His condition was upgraded to satisfactory Friday, according to a spokeswoman at University Hospital.
Clyde Johnson, his wife, Laurie, and their 2-year-old son, Macallen, also from Edwards, were traveling with Aubel.
Macallen Johnson was killed in the crash, but his parents were airlifted from the wreckage by an Army National Guard helicopter.
Clyde Johnson, 42, an insurance agent, was taken to the same burn ward as Aubel. He was still listed in critical condition Friday afternoon, according to the spokeswoman.
Laurie Johnson, 42, who runs her own bookkeeping service, is recovering at Vail Valley Medical Center, where her condition Friday was upgraded to stable, hospital spokeswoman Deb Schalm says.
“She’ll be with us for several days,” Schalm says.
The Johnsons and Aubel were members of the close-knit Vail Bible Church in Avon. All three have drawn a massive outpouring of support from friends in the valley.
“The three of them are very valuable members of our church and really great people,” friend and church pastor Charlie Cummings says. “They’re pretty important people.”
Aubel was also an active member of the Vail Eagle Valley Rotary Club.
“We ski together occasionally and do community service together, which Chris always seems to have a lot of time for,” says friend Greg Moffet. “He’s one of the truly nice guys out there.”
Aubel, who is married with two children, is deeply committed to his family, Moffet says.
“We almost always saw him with his family. He’s a huge family man,” Moffet says. “There are a lot of people pulling for him.”
Callicrate, who is also in the Rotary Club, says Aubel gets involved in as many of the organization’s activities as he can.
“He participates in everything we do and he does it with a kind heart,” she says. “He’s scared us all and everyone’s very, very concerned about him.”