Patrick Rooney, left, and his father, Bill Rooney Jr., were killed Sunday in a single-engine plane crash near Yampa Valley Regional Airport.

Courtesy photo

Patrick Rooney, left, and his father, Bill Rooney Jr., were killed Sunday in a single-engine plane crash near Yampa Valley Regional Airport.

Bill and Patrick Rooney died Sunday in plane crash near YVRA

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Courtesy photo

Bill Rooney, right, is survived by his wife, Debi. The couple lived in Yorba Linda, Calif., but also owned homes in Steamboat Springs.

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Courtesy photo

Patrick Rooney, right, is survived by his wife, Erynn Rooney, left, and their 1-year-old son, William Rooney IV.

Friends and family members who knew William "Bill" Rooney Jr.'s careful nature cannot understand the plane crash that killed him and his son, William Patrick Rooney III, on Sunday morning.

The men intended to leave Steamboat Springs on Saturday, but after learning about strong Santa Ana winds near their destination in Southern California, the two decided to wait another day before flying home, said Sean Rooney, the second of Bill and Debi Rooney's three sons. Patrick Rooney, 26, was the eldest.

The plane, a Pilatus PC-12, took off in heavy snow Sunday morning from Yampa Valley Regional Airport, headed west. It appears the plane attempted to return to the airport before crashing in a field 1 mile north of the runway at about 10 a.m.

"They were extremely cautious men, both of them," Sean Rooney said. "It's so hard to fathom because they definitely wouldn't do anything to put their lives in jeopardy or leave us like this."

Before they took off, Patrick Rooney called his wife, Erynn Rooney, to tell her they were headed home, Sean Rooney said. Patrick told her it was snowing heavily, but they had no concerns about taking off. Bill Rooney had flown in snowy conditions many times before, Sean Rooney said.

Sean Rooney said his dad was careful in everything he did - and everything he allowed his sons to do.

"With my dad, it started long, long ago when he wouldn't let us get skateboards : or do any extreme sports. He was so scared about us getting hurt," Sean Rooney said.

Bill Rooney, 54, had six to seven years of flying experience, including flights from their home in Yorba Linda, Calif., to Florida, Alaska, Vermont and in recent months more than one trip a month to Steamboat Springs, where Bill and Debi owned a home and a condo.

Sean Rooney plays minor league baseball and said his dad often would use the plane to travel across the country to watch games. He said his dad also planned to fly to youngest son Colin's games with Pepperdine University this year.

The family began vacationing in Steamboat about 10 years ago when they first began hunting on the land of a family friend near Hayden.

About six years ago, the hunt turned into an annual "boy's hunt" when Bill Rooney and his three sons would come for September deer and elk bow hunting.

The Rooneys own a condo in The Phoenix complex, along with a ranch in the Big Valley area.

In recent months, Bill Rooney had been traveling to Steamboat to oversee the renovation of a barn on their ranch. The barn is to be used for Sean Rooney's wedding reception, planned for September.

Patrick Rooney is survived by his 1-year-old son, William Rooney IV, and his wife, who is seven months pregnant.

Sean Rooney said both men were devoted husbands and very close with their family.

"They were both incredible men and husbands. They were a piece of chain that kept this family together, not to say it's going to fall apart. We definitely are going to fill in that chain because it's an extremely strong family," he said.

Bill Rooney owned a commercial contracting business, and Patrick Rooney worked as a construction contractor in the family business.

Investigation continues

An investigator from the National Transportation Safety Board was on scene at about 7 a.m. Monday, YVRA Manager Dave Ruppel said.

David Bowling, regional director of the NTSB's Central Mountain Regional Office in Denver, said an investigator from Arlington, Texas, will handle the incident. Initial reports show the plane was in a turn to the east when a high-velocity crash occurred. It is not yet clear why the plane was in that area or traveling in that direction.

Ruppel said visibility Sunday morning was as low as three-quarters of a mile shortly before the Rooneys took off.

Sean Rooney said his brother had about 10 hours of flight training and many hours of co-pilot experience, so that even if his father was unable to pilot the plane, Patrick would have been able to take the controls.

Routt County Coroner Rob Ryg said the bodies will be taken for a standard autopsy Tuesday before being released to the family. There are not yet plans for a memorial service.

- To reach Zach Fridell, call 871-4208

or e-mail zfridell@steamboatpilot.com

Comments

Brneyedgrl 5 years, 11 months ago

This is so heartbreaking. I met Sean while he was playing baseball--what a really great guy and one of the nicest I've ever met; and from the other comments made, he obviously gets it from his wonderful family. My deepest, most heartfelt sympathy goes out to Sean, his family and their friends.

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dave rubio 5 years, 11 months ago

Currently, I live in Texas, but still maintain a home in Yorba Linda. I had the privilege of knowing the entire Rooney family, with my interaction with them through youth baseball. The loss of Bill and Patrick truly impacted me, as I knew them both, fairly well. Bill was a gentleman and a great father, as evidenced by his family's respect and admiration throughout the Yorba Linda community. He was a great coach who helped developed many fine players in the area. He was an excellent contributor to the Esperanza high school baseball program, one of the finest in the United States. I knew Patrick, who was an excellent baseball player who excelled in high school and also at Pepperdine University. A good kid who was always polite and well mannered. My condolences to Debbie, Sean, Colin, and Patrick's wife and child.

Rest in peace Bill and Patrick. You will be sorely missed.

Dave Rubio

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Srooney5 5 years, 11 months ago

I decided to post a comment to clarify things for those who would like to know. There was a quote that the media decided to jumble. That's odd! It's that whole "snowing heavily" part. The writer here decided to make it seem like it was snowing heavily and they went anyways. I've talked to Erynn several times now(God Bless her and my mother). When she talked to Patrick before the takeoff, he told her that it was lightly snowing. They watched at least one other plane(could be more and I'm not talking big jet) takeoff in the same weather. Now maybe when they arrived at the crash site some time after the takeoff the weather was worse. Either way, I've personally flown co-pilot with my father for 30+ hours, and he would NEVER put his son(my older brother, Patrick) in weather that they have not handled before. And I'm telling you that he has experienced some inclement weather between Alaska, Florida, and several other places in the country. God Bless both of them and please keep our entire family in your prayers. Those men have some extremely large shoes to fill. They were incredible fathers, husbands, and brothers. I Love you guys both, and I thank everyone for all their condolences and love. God Bless

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Brneyedgrl 5 years, 11 months ago

You belong to a wonderful family; I cannot imagine your father or brother taking any unnecessary chances either. You are all too level headed and responsible to take any risks like that. As we all have seen throughout the years, the media does NOT always get it right. You all are in my prayers. God bless you and your family.

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bill_mccarty 5 years, 11 months ago

My son and I played baseball with Bill, with Yorba Hills Little League. He is a very knowledgeable coach that always give kids a fair chance. He was a loving family man that adored his wife and family, as well as a loyal friend. Bill was a fierce competitor and instilled that kind of competiveness in his sons and well as all the kids that played for him. He always had a kind word for everyone, and his sons are just like him. His family has a very strong bond and they will get through this but Bill and Patrick will always be missed. My heartfelt condolences to Debbie, Sean, Colin and Patrick's wife and son. May God's love bring you peace and understanding in the coming days.

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mirwin3 5 years, 11 months ago

I just want to say that my deepest condolences go out to the family of these first class guys. I became good friends with Pat in recent years playing softball together and knew Bill through our shared passion for aviation. We both learned to fly with the same great instructor, Jeff Baker.

As a pilot myself, I also wanted to confirm Sean's comments on the media's exaggeration with the weather. From time to time, I would see Bill down at Chino Airport since their hangar is next to ours and he had offered multiple times to let us use his office which he had turned into a weather station to use before flights. This is a great tool for a pilot in making judgments on when to fly and when not to. This gave me an impression of Bill being a very cautious and informed pilot. So I am certain Bill took full advantage of all the information available to him before the flight. He was trained and rated to fly in those conditions, and had done so many times before I'm sure.

Debi, Sean, Colin, and Erynn May you find peace in the memories of these great men you hold in your hearts.

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Mandi Blevins 5 years, 11 months ago

I never got the opportunity to meet Bill, but I did meet Patrick and even in the short time we knew him, he made quite an impact. They will be forever missed. I appreciate what you wrote Sean and even in words, you sound just like Patrick. Lots of love and support to the Rooney family right now. You are forever in our hearts.

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elaybourne 5 years, 11 months ago

I have known Bill for many years as I have been one of the mechanics on all his planes since he started to fly. I have been maintaining his Pilatus since new and it was very important to him to have his plane as good or better than new. Nothing was overlooked. I never meet the rest of his family but he always had something good to say about them when ever I spoke to him. I will miss Bill and my thoughts and prays go to him, his son and to the rest of the family.

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rbonilla 5 years, 11 months ago

very sad.......thoughts are with the family and friends....

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michael schroeder 5 years, 11 months ago

First of all, I would like to express my deepest condolences to the Rooney family. They are an outstanding group of people that it has been my absolute priveledge to share a small part of my life with.
Obviously Bill was an incredibly successful business man. But that is clearly overshadowed by the fact that he was even a better family man. By virtue of that, Bill was the richest man I ever knew. His oldest son, Patrick was a true gentleman and a wonderful human being. Bill raised fine boys to become great men. That will be evidenced by Sean, the new patriarch of the family. I am certain the culmanation of his life honor the memory of his father. Rest in peace Rooney men, for the peoples lives you touched will always remember.

Michael Schroeder

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Issdaj 5 years, 11 months ago

My sincerest condolences to the members of their family.

The Rooneys were the landlords of the company I used to work for. I had a few opportunities to talk to both Bill and Patrick Rooney , face to face and on the phone.

Mr. Rooney had always introduced himself with a light and jolly tone on his voice "This is your very nice landlord". And indeed he was.

Both Bill and son Patrick are men that exhibited humility, respect and elegance. They were men who were very polite and very respectful towards people and to those who worked for them as well.

From all other people's comments and posts, one may know that both Bill Rooney and son Patrick have left a very good name. To his wife Debbie, Sean, Colin and Patrick's wife and son , this is their best legacy.

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