A small, private plane crashed at the Aspen/Pitkin County Airport in Colorado on Sunday afternoon, killing one and injuring two, according to the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office.
The plane, reportedly a Bombardier Challenger 601, crashed at the airport at about 12:30 p.m. local time. The private jet was reportedly coming from Tucson, Arizona and is believed to have been attempting to land for the second time at the time of the crash.
Radio traffic revealed that the pilot of the small jet reported a missed approach just prior to the crash. High winds may be indicated as a factor in the tragedy as well, though a cause remains unknown. According to officials at the scene there was no indication of any problem with the plane prior to the attempted landing, nor was a mayday call issued. Witnesses to the horrific incident say that the plane initially came to rest on its roof on a runway and then burst into flames.
A spokesperson from the Aspen/Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office reported that the two individuals injured in the crash have been transported to local hospitals with “moderate to severe injuries.” Neither of the two injured victims have yet been identified, though both have been called pilots. The victim killed in the crash has been identified as 54-year-old Sergio Carranza Brabata of Mexico, he was reportedly a co-pilot on board the aircraft. There were reportedly only the three individuals aboard the plane at the time of the crash.
The Aspen airport sees heavy traffic from small private jets as it is close to exclusive ski areas and many wealthy and famous people are known to travel to their vacation homes via the small airport, located about 3 hours west of Denver. Aspen/Pitkin County Airport has also gained a reputation as a difficult airport at which to land because its runway is surrounded by mountains.The airport has been temporarily closed as emergency crews tend to the charred wreckage and local and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) officials tend to their investigation.
Witnesses to the crash posted photographs of the incident and the wreckage to both Twitter and Youtube in the moments following it.
Among those witnesses to the terrible tragedy today were at least two celebrities. Comedian Kevin Nealon, of Saturday Night Live fame, tweeted about the crash after it happened calling it a “horrible crash” and reporting that the plane “exploded into flames” upon landing. He went on to say that emergency crews responded quickly. After the airport was closed, Nealon suggested that he would be driving home to L.A.
Singer/songwriter Leann Rimes also witnessed the plane crash in Aspen this afternoon. She also took to Twitter to describe the incident calling it “sad” and “a horrible plane crash.”
Few additional details are known at this time. As the official investigation continues more details as to what could have caused this horrific crash in Aspen as well as the identities of the two injured victims are sure to be revealed.
By Michele Wessel