DENVER — Two men from Mexico were being treated Monday for serious
injuries and another was dead after a fiery plane crash at the airport in Aspen,
a popular ski resort where numerous wealthy visitors shuttle in and out on
The plane, which had made a stop in Tucson, Ariz., went off the right side of the runway, flipped over and burst into
flames on Sunday afternoon, said Alex Burchetta, director of operations for the
Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office.
“The injuries were traumatic in nature, but they were not thermal,” he said.
“So the fire never reached inside the cabin as far as we can tell.”
Miguel Henriqez was in critical condition and Moises Carranza was in serious
condition at St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction, spokeswoman Kimberly
Both are pilots and one was co-piloting the plane with Sergio Carranza Brabata,
also of Mexico, who died in the crash. It was not clear who was in control of
the plane when it went down.
No one else was on board. The cause of the crash remained under investigation.
Officials said the flight originated in Mexico and stopped in Tucson, Ariz.,
before heading to Aspen, where landing is challenging because of surrounding
mountains that require pilots to descend sharply.
In 2001, 18 people died when a chartered Gulfstream III jet from Burbank,
Calif., hit a hillside just west of the airport.
Doug Britt, who was watching planes take off and land with his son, said the
crash created a fireball about 10 stories high, The Aspen Times reported.
At least two celebrities — LeAnn Rimes Cibrian and comedian Kevin Nealon — saw
the crash and tweeted about it.
Rimes Cibrian tweeted via @leannrimes on Sunday: “So sad! Horrible plane
crash we just saw happen at the Aspen airport.”
Nealon sent a series of tweets about the crash through @kevin_nealon.
His first one said, “Horrible plane crash here at Aspen airport. Exploded into
flames as it was landing.” Later he tweeted, “Airport is closed now. I think
I’ll drive back to LA after seeing that.”
The plane was a Canadair CL-600, a midsized private jet, said Peter Knudson, a
spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board. Records indicate it is
registered to the Bank of Utah in Salt Lake City.
Bank officials did not immediately respond to phone and email messages seeking
The sheriff’s office said the airport remained closed and would reopen as soon
as possible. But it did not provide a timeline, saying the NTSB must give the OK
to remove debris from the runway. An investigation by the NTSB and Federal
Aviation Administration was expected to get underway Monday, the office said.
A plane with the same tail number took off at 6 a.m. MST from the airport in
Toluca, a city 35 miles west of Mexico City, before stopping in Tucson,
according to a Mexican federal official who spoke on condition of anonymity
because he was not authorized to speak to the press.
Snow showers were reported in the area Sunday afternoon, but not at the
airport, said Tom Renwick, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Grand
Junction. He said it has been overcast all day with temperatures hovering around
Aspen is located in the Rocky Mountains about 100 miles southwest of Denver.