Two Steamboat men dead in plane crash

Men were flying home from Iowa when plane went down near Walton Peak

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A plane went down Saturday night north of Walton Peak on Rabbit Ears Pass, killing the pilot and passenger.

The identities of the two men are not being released until the families have been notified.

Both men were from Steamboat Springs. They were heading toward the Steamboat Springs Airport-Bob Adams Field from Iowa.

The crash of the Lancair Columbia private plane was reported to the Routt County Sheriff's Office at 7:30 p.m. Saturday by a cell phone call from a hunter, according to Routt County Search and Rescue incident commander Randall Hannaway.

The hunter, Dustin Woods, reported a plane flying dangerously low in the vicinity of Walton Peak. He also reported hearing sputtering and what sounded like backfiring.

Shortly after the call from Woods, Routt County Dispatch received a call from the pilot's family saying he was overdue.

Routt County Search and Rescue sent four ground teams out Saturday night with directional finding equipment. The teams were called back to Steamboat around 1:30 a.m. when their search was unsuccessful.

On Sunday morning at 8 a.m., Civil Air Patrol sent out a fixed wing airplane to search for the crash site. Local pilot John Whitte took two Search and Rescue members in his helicopter.

The downed plane was found at 10:37 a.m. by helicopter.

At press time, investigators from National Transportation Safety Board and the airplane manufacturer were en route to the site.

The Sheriff's Office has secured the site because of its accessibility from the road.

To reach Autumn Phillips call 871-4210 or e-mail aphillips@stemaboatpilot.com

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