One dead in Aspen plane crash

1:15 AM, Jan 6, 2014   |    comments
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Photo Gallery: Aspen plane crash
Crews are at the scene of a plane crash at the Aspen/Pitkin County Airport. The crash occurred sometime after noon as the plane was attempting to land. (Photo: Jay Sills via KUSA)



(USA TODAY) - A private jet crashed and burned while attempting to land at the Aspen, Colo., airport Sunday, killing one person and injuring two others, authorities said.

The flight originated in Toluca, Mexico, with a stop in Tucson.

Alex Burchetta, director of operations for the Pitkin County Sheriff's Office, identified the man who died as Sergio Emilio Carranza Brabata, 54, of Mexico, a co-pilot of the plane. He was declared dead at the scene.

The sheriff's office said the other two injured men were a pilot and co-pilot but did not release their names.

The plane was trying to land when it ran off the right side of the runway, flipped and burst into flames.

"The injuries were traumatic in nature, but they were not thermal," Burchetta said. "So the fire never reached inside the cabin as far as we can tell."

The Aspen/Pitkin County Airport was closed after the crash at 12:30 p.m. MT. The sheriff's department said it was not known when the airport would reopen to flights. A National Transportation Safety Board team of investigators was en route.

FAA spokesman Allen Kenitzer identified the plane as a Canadair CL600 en route to from Tucson, Ariz., to Aspen, about 100 miles southwest of Denver. The Canadian-built business jet can seat up to 19 passengers plus a crew of two, depending on its configuration.

Jay Sills, 35, who was at the airport, said he saw the plane moments after it crashed.

"I just saw a huge plume of smoke," Sills said . "I came around the corner and the plane was upside down, rocking back and forth, next to the runway."

Sills says it appeared the cabin was still intact. He says a firetruck was on scene almost immediately after crash.

Comedian Kevin Nealon tweeted from the scene: "Horrible plane crash here at Aspen airport. Exploded into flames as it was landing. I think it was a private jet."

Later he tweeted: "Fire trucks and other emergency vehicles still at scene. No word on survivors or who was on jet but I can't imagine there are survivors."

Singer LeAnn Rimes tweeted: "So sad! Horrible plane crash we just saw happen at the Aspen airport."

Raquel Villanueva reports for KUSA-TV in Denver. Contributing: William M. Welch, USA TODAY

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