Private plane crashes on Rabbit Ears Pass; 2 killed |

Private plane crashes on Rabbit Ears Pass; 2 killed

Brad Bolchunos/Steamboat Today

— Two victims in the crash of a twin-engine plane near Rabbit Ears Pass Friday night have been identified, but the cause of the crash remains unknown.

Killed were David Louis Klausner, 47, of Longmont; and Sandy Lee Chumbly, 48, of Hillsboro, Ore, according to Routt County Coroner Dale Hammock.

Both died when the twin-engine Beechcraft hit the ground in a clearing along the Harrison Creek drainage, across U,S.40 from Dumont Lake, at approximately 7:20 p.m.

Highway workers on U.S, 40, approximately two miles north of the crash site, reported the accident.

The plane reportedly flew straight into the ground. No fire occurred.

The crash site was at an elevation of approximately 9000 feet.

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Recovery and investigation teams from the Routt County Coroner's office, sheriff's office and Search and Rescue retrieved the victims' bodies shortly after noon on Saturday, Hammock said.

Officials from the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration examined the wreckage Sunday.

Results of the investigation were not immediately available, and cause of the accident remained unknown as of Monday Night.

Neither transportation officials or sheriff's office representatives could be reached for further comment Monday.

Rita Donham, a local pilot and organizer of the Steamboat Vintage fly-in held Saturday at the Steamboat Springs Airport, said weather conditions prompted many pilots to postpone their flights.

:We're all pretty sure that evening there was ice in the clouds," she said. "A lot of extremely skilled pilots coming to (the fly-in)… canceled."

Donham said one local pilot reportedly had radio contact with the aircraft earlier in the evening and advised climbing to a greater altitude, above the clouds, to receive the location beacon from Yampa Valley Regional Airport.

The pilot of the crashed plane apparently had not filed an advisory flight plan in Denver, Donham said. Consequently, the intended destination remains unclear. Donham said she believed the plane had not departed from Steamboat, however.

"We still don't know if he was coming to Steamboat," she said.

The crash cast a sad note on the evening preceding the fly-in, a rare gathering of dozens of pilots in Steamboat, she added.

"Mountain flying requires a lot of respect on the pilot's part," Donham said. "We all felt saddened by the tragedy."

The lost recent plane crash prior to Friday in the Steamboat area occurred Jan. 4, when a twin-engine 421 failed to gain altitude on take-off. The plane hurtled to a stop in a ravine approximately 400 yards from the end of the runway at the Steamboat Springs Airport, claiming the lives of three men and injuring five other passengers.

Local pilots said ice and too much weight most likely contributed to that crash.