2 dead in Rabbit Ears Pass plane crash identified

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— A flight instructor and his student died in a plane crash on Rabbit Ears Pass on Saturday night.

William Earl Allen, 62, of Broomfield, and his student Terry Lynn Stewart, 60, crashed near the Harrison Creek drainage area Saturday mid-flight during a lesson. Stewart's driver's license indicated he was from Houston, according to Routt County Coroner Rob Ryg.

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Rabbit Ears plane crash site

Ryg said autopsies would be performed on the bodies, which were transported from the crash site at about 4:45 p.m. Sunday.

"It was a tough recovery," Ryg said. "We've been out there all day."

The single-engine Piper Arrow was located at 8 p.m. Saturday in the Harrison Creek drainage south of Walton Peak, a 10,544-foot mountain, by Civil Air Patrol pilots.

According to Routt County Undersheriff Ray Birch, the location was relayed to ground units who hiked into the wreckage area.

At 2:30 a.m. Sunday, Routt County Search and Rescue members located the plane. The Routt County Sheriff’s Office also assisted in the search.

The plane was reported overdue for arrival in Boulder late Saturday afternoon. At 6:28 p.m. Saturday, the Routt County Communications Center received a call about the possible downed plane east of Steamboat Springs, Birch said in a news release.

Birch said the exact cause of the plane crash still is unknown, and an investigation is underway.

An official at Steamboat Springs Airport reported that the plane, which was not based in Steamboat, arrived from Boulder on Saturday, stopped at the airport for lunch and was headed back to Boulder when it crashed.

Routt County Search and Rescue's Jim Linville said at least two planes have crashed in the Rabbit Ears Pass area in the past 10 years.

On July 19, 2003, three people were killed in a plane crash near Rabbit Ears Pass when a 1975 Gumman airplane they were flying in crashed in a heavily wooded area south of pass.

According to a report in the Steamboat Pilot & Today, the plane clipped several treetops on its descent, and one of the wings was sheared off. The crash ignited a wildfire that burned everything in a quarter of an acre around the crash site.

A Piper Cherokee Saratoga went down Dec. 29, 2002, about 6.5 miles south of U.S. Highway 40 on Rabbit Ears Pass, and a 57-year-old woman died in that crash after being trapped in the plane for almost eight hours. Three others, all from the Colorado Springs area, were rescued from the crash.

Both crashes occurred in the Harrison Creek drainage area where the wreckage from Saturday’s crash was found.

According to Linville, pilots unfamiliar with the terrain can misjudge how much elevation they need to gain to clear the drainage.

This story will be updated as the Steamboat Today gets more information.

Fatal Rabbit Ears plane crash


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To reach Ben Ingersoll, call 970-871-4204, email bingersoll@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @BenMIngersoll

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