Plane wreckage found

Authorities locate Cessna near Fish Creek Reservoir; both men killed


— Authorities found the wreckage Tuesday of a twin-engine Cessna 310 that disappeared Sunday morning. The passenger and pilot - a Hayden man and his son - were killed.

Mark Klapperich, 56, of Hayden, and Levi Klapperich, 26, of Durango, died in the crash. The plane was found about 1 p.m. Tuesday, six miles east of Steamboat Springs near Fish Creek Reservoir.

"My understanding is it's at 9,900 feet, in a fairly heavily treed area," said Randall Hannaway, a member of Routt County Search and Rescue. "It's very close to the reservoir, based on what I looked at on the map. It would appear to me that it would be very rugged terrain."

Hannaway said it was too early to determine the cause of the crash. The National Transportation Safety Board was on its way to review the scene, he said.

"The plane itself, my impression was it was in very rough shape," Hannaway said. "It sounded like there was a fire."

The plane was on the northwest side of the reservoir, he said.

Levi Klapperich was flying the Cessna that disappeared Sunday morning after leaving Yampa Valley Regional Airport in Hayden. Klapperich was a licensed commercial pilot as well as a flight and ground instructor, according to Federal Aviation Administration records.

The plane was listed as belonging to Robert Hutter of Bayfield. No one answered the phone at his home, but a 310 Cessna was listed for sale on several Web sites under his name and telephone number. It's unclear whether that was the same plane.

The Klapperiches were heading for Fort Collins-Loveland Municipal Airport. Levi Klapperich had left Durango on Saturday to pick up his father at YVRA, his family said.

Their destination was Boulder, for the annual Bolder Boulder 10K race. Several members of the family planned to run it this year, Doug Klapperich said. He is Mark Klapperich's nephew and Levi Klapperich's cousin.

"It was mainly family from Colorado that had assembled on the Front Range to rendezvous and run the race Monday," Doug Klapperich said. Klapperich, who earlier described his family as close knit and said Levi and Mark were "key components of that," could not be reached after the wreckage was found.

On Monday, the Civil Air Patrol had expanded the search to encompass 4,000 square miles in 11 counties. That included nine in Colorado and two in Wyoming, said Maj. Mark Young, Civil Air Patrol spokesman. The search covered the same area Tuesday, he said.

Search and Rescue spokeswoman Riley Polumbus said a searcher had noticed an unusual smell while snowmobiling Monday.

"At one point, one of the rescuers smelled something and thought, 'That's not a snowmobile smell,'" Polumbus said. "They marked it on GPS."

When the rescue teams returned for debriefing that night, the smell was one of the significant findings of the search. The team returned Tuesday and found the wreckage quickly, Polumbus said. She said she thought it was unlikely that searchers on planes would have been able to see the site.

"I think the one thing we really wanted to stress was to thank everybody, the family members and all their friends, and all the different agencies that helped," Hannaway said.

Polumbus and Hannaway said they knew of no previous plane crashes in the spot. But people get lost, stuck or hurt when snowmobiling or skiing near Fish Creek Reservoir each year, Polumbus said.

"There's 10 feet of snow up there, more or less," she said. "It's treacherous terrain."


Regulators1 8 years, 11 months ago

This is a wonderful and extraordinary family, of fine and first rate people. Those who knew Mark and Levi where bettered by it and the world is a lesser place having had them taken away. Our loss is Heavens Gain. Gods Speed on your journey boys. We will meet again.


kellyc 8 years, 11 months ago

Thad, Katie, Zane, Ellie and all the Klapperich family, Please know that our thoughts, prayers and love come to you from Cortez. May God keep you strong through this difficult time. In sincere, loving friendship, Jim, Kelly and Stephen


darrellm 8 years, 11 months ago

Chris, we're really sorry for your loss. You're in our thoughts and prayers. D, J, B & B Marchbanks


trinity 8 years, 11 months ago

Dear Klapperich Family:

I am deeply saddened by your losses, and my thoughts and prayers are with you during this very difficult time. God bless you, and god speed to Levi and Mark.

I would like to offer a special thanks to the "private citizens" of Routt County who volunteered their time to locate the plane--it is greatly appreciated!

A special thanks goes out to the PRIVATE CITIZEN on snowmobile who actually found the plane (not Search and Rescue who are claiming to be heros in the search).

My condolences go out to the Klapperich family.

God bless you.


A Steamboat citizen


rjane8 8 years, 11 months ago

Dear Chris~ What an awesome man Mark was. He truly loved you so much. I am saddened to hear of this tragic event occurring in your life. Please know my thoughts and prayers are with you at this time. I am so sorry. You are also a terrific lady and he was so blessed to have you. He knew that too. Peace be with you. Rebecca Erickson (Bosold)


rockstar 8 years, 11 months ago


An awful lot can get accomplished in the world when nobody cares who gets the credit. An incident like this isn't about who found the airplane - it's about a family and a community riddled with grief.

I do not know anyone associated with Routt County Search and Rescue, but I do know this - nobody feels like a hero when they locate two dead bodies. The men and women of search and rescue won't soon forget what they saw or that they couldn't locate the men sooner. We should all be thankful for everyone who participated in the search - private and other.


ihatestupidpeople 8 years, 11 months ago

trinity.......i don't think that search and rescue is taking the credit for the find, thats not what this is about. i think that search and rescue put in tons of time and effort into finding this plane. i think that the personnel of search and rescue are relived that the plane has been found. search and rescue takes pride in not quiting until the job has been done what ever it is. in being a private person, search and rescue relies on its support members a lot especially in these hard searches.


PKD 8 years, 11 months ago

My heart goes out to all the families and friends that know levi and his father mark.

I had heard that the search and rescue actually stopped for lunch and said they extensively searched the area and were not going to search that area again. There were two private searchers and friends of levis that got tired of waiting for the search and rescue team and decided to go ahead of the rescue team and search on there own apon searching they are the ones who found the wreackage. I do however believe that all the search and rescue teams deserve a great thank you for there efforts. But i think a sincere appreciation goes out to everyone who came up to privately search and the awsome job the klapperich family did in starting and performing there own incident command post and search and rescue teams.

Levi To you god speed and you will be missed i will never forget you.


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