Routt County Search and Rescue President Darrel Levingston looks at a map with volunteer Patrick Meyer on Sunday at a staging area set up on Routt County Road 80 to look for a plane that went missing after taking off from Yampa Valley Regional Airport.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Routt County Search and Rescue President Darrel Levingston looks at a map with volunteer Patrick Meyer on Sunday at a staging area set up on Routt County Road 80 to look for a plane that went missing after taking off from Yampa Valley Regional Airport.

Search area expanded

Civil Air Patrol looking at 4,000 square miles in 11 counties


— Helicopters and planes could be seen and heard throughout the day in Steamboat Springs on Monday, during day two of a search for a downed aircraft carrying a Routt County man and his son.

But the search for the twin-engine Cessna 310 had been unsuccessful as of Monday evening.

The Civil Air Patrol on Monday expanded its search area to encompass 4,000 square miles in 11 counties, but because of bad weather, the seven planes and two helicopters involved in the search focused on Routt and Grand counties.

CAP incident commander Mark Young said the search will resume today and could continue through the weekend.

"It would be fairly easy for them to survive 10 days in the mountains," said Young, adding that the men had survival equipment with them on the plane. "We're going to try everything we can to find them."

The pilot and passenger of a plane that has been missing since Sunday morning were identified Monday as Levi Klapperich, 26, of Durango, and his father, Mark Klapperich, 56, of Hayden.

Riley Polumbus, spokeswoman for Routt County Search and Rescue, which assisted in the search locally, said Levi Klapperich has logged 3,100 hours of flying time.

"He's an experienced pilot for sure," Polumbus said.

The two men left Yampa Valley Regional Airport shortly after 8 a.m. Sunday, headed for Fort Collins. Levi Klapperich flew from Durango and picked up his father in Hayden, but the pair and their plane never made it to the Front Range.

Civil Air Patrol began a search at about 11 a.m. Sunday and called for help from ground crews at about 3 p.m., when Routt County Search and Rescue initiated its search north of Hayden, near California Park. Ground and air crews searched for several hours before the ground crews relocated to Rabbit Ears Pass.

The ground search on Rabbit Ears Pass resumed at about 9 a.m. Monday. Polumbus said two snowmobile search crews were sent to search areas north and south of Dumont Lake. They found nothing by the time the ground search ended at 6 p.m.

Searchers were particularly interested in the Morrison Creek and Harrison Creek area. Polumbus said Search and Rescue members can recall three aircraft that have crashed there before.

Polumbus and Young said searchers still have been unable to pick up any transponder signals from the aircraft. Commercial, private and search planes have been listening for the signal.

"It is a bit concerning, but we have no idea what to make of that yet," Polumbus said.

Tracking an aircraft from departure to arrival by radar is not possible at certain elevations and locations in the Colorado mountains. Young said CAP has identified three broken radar tracks of interest, and any one of the three might belong to the missing plane.

"We've researched all three and so far haven't found anything," Young said.

Two of the radar tracks ended in the California Park and Rabbit Ears Pass areas in Routt County, which have been searched extensively by air and ground.

The third broken radar track goes over Mary Jane at the Winter Park ski area.

"We're going to keep searching all three of those areas tomorrow," Young said. "At this point we haven't ruled out anything."

Young said CAP had requested air assistance from the military, but the military was not able to help because of bad weather. That decision will be reevaluated today, Young said.

Friends of the missing men have also been searching the county on their own, Polumbus said. Search and Rescue will not be sending up a search helicopter Tuesday like they did Monday, but a ground crew might search the Harrison Creek area on Rabbit Ears Pass.

Polumbus said Search and Rescue members were talking to Mark and Levi Klapperich's family throughout the day Monday at the Search and Rescue Barn on Yampa Street.

"They're hanging in there," Polumbus said.


dave reynolds 7 years ago

we are praying for all of you assured they are in a better place than we..God bless


mountaingirl33 7 years ago

May God be with you the family durring this time. We pray for the best.

Bless those who are searching for these two men- may you keep safe and may your eyes be sharp.


MBC8791 7 years ago

Thank you for your prayers. It is very hard waiting. We (the family) are VERY grateful for all of those kind people who are out looking for them.


grannyrett 7 years ago

Our prayers are with the family and the searchers. God bless you all.


MBC8791 7 years ago

Thank you for your prayers. We are holding on to hope that they are ok. I am the Aunt of the pilot. It has been a difficult day. Thank you again.


sledhead004 7 years ago

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of these two.I know the passenger, and know they are both strong to survive. God bless them and hope for the best.


bmcorl 7 years ago

To Chris, Anna, and the rest of family and friends of Mark and Levi; My thoughts and prayers are with you at this difficult time. My father is the best of friends with Mark, so I am sending this from South Dakota, as I wish I was there to offer my support. May God give all of you- family, friends, search and rescue and anyone else involved, the strenghth and guidance to get through this. God bless you all at this time. Melissa Corlett (Daughter of Randy DeWall)


lylasbrats 7 years ago

May God watch over you all, and hear your every prayer, grant you many blessings and keep you in his care. All our love and prayers go out to the Klapperich and NewMiller families! All our love,The Valoras, Millers & Barretts


shawnangi 7 years ago

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Klapperich and Newmiller families. We hope and pray that Mark and Levi return home safely. God bless all the rescuers out there that are searching for them. All our love, The Hinkle's


kindraann 7 years ago

The families of the Klapperich's are in my prayers and thoughts. May God bless your family and lay a hand on Levi and Mark and give them strength. Thank you to all those involved in the search effort! Let us all pray for a happy homecoming.


graybros 7 years ago

We are all praying for Mark and Levi and the families, friends and rescuers. God Bless. The Grays


shipmand83 6 years, 12 months ago

I pray for the Klapperich family's may the Lord comfort you in this time and pray for a safe return.


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