Post Independent Writer

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October 23, 2004
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Miraculous crash landing in Glenwood

When Paula, Lauren and Dave Matheson returned from a soccer game Saturday morning, they found a chunk of their roof missing and a Cessna 170A in their driveway. By Ivy VogelPost Independent Staff

When Paula, Lauren and Dave Matheson returned from a soccer game Saturday morning, they found a chunk of their roof missing and a Cessna 170A in their driveway. The plane was on its belly wedged between the Matheson's townhouse and a neighbor's townhouse in a neighborhood on Mt. Sopris Drive."We were so lucky we were delayed at the soccer game or we might have been pulling into the driveway when it crashed," Paula said.Though authorities are not exactly sure what happened, they suspect that pilot Norm Cohen of Snowmass was flying north preparing to land at the Glenwood Springs airport when for some reason, he decided not to land the plane, said Terry Wilson, Glenwood Springs chief of police.Cohen flew past the airport, turned around and was headed back to the airport when his landing gear hit the Matheson's roof, Wilson said.

After hitting the Matheson's townhouse, the front of the plane hit the second-story landing of an adjacent townhouse and landed on its belly and left wing.Wilson believes Cohen crashed because his plane lost power.Cohen was conscious when he was removed from the plane and was taken to Valley View Hospital, Wilson said. No further information on Cohen's condition was available; Valley View cited HIPPA guidelines.The only visible injuries on Cohen were a few facial scratches, Wilson said, and no one else was injured.Plane crashes, like car accidents, can happen for a variety of reasons including mechanical problems, bad weather and the fault of the pilot, said Dick Weinberg, manager for Glenwood Springs Airport."Now it's all conjuncture, really," Weinberg said. "To say anything would be overstepping my boundaries."

Weinberg has flown with Cohen on several occasions and said Cohen is a good, experienced pilot."There's been a few accidents here and there but that's normal for most airports," Weinberg said.Using a cherry picker, the fire department cut off the wings and placed the 1,500-pound plane on a flatbed trailer."I think for bringing an airplane out of the sky into a housing development we got really lucky," Wilson said.Contact Ivy Vogel: 945-8515, ext. 534

ivogel@postindependent.comRuth Walker was upstairs and her daughter Kristen Johnson was downstairs getting ready for work when they heard a loud noise and felt the house shake."I knew something hit the house, but I didn't know what it was," said Walker.Walker's first instinct was to make sure her daughter was OK. Johnson yelled up the stairs, alerting her mom that she was OK but that a downstairs window was shattered.Walker rushed downstairs to see what had shattered the window.

"I though it was a truck, but when I saw it was a plane, I knew we had to get out of the house right away," Walker said.While calling 911, Walker and her daughter evacuated the house.They saw pilot Norm Cohen sitting in the pilot seat. He was conscious but stunned, Walker said.Gas was leaking out of the plane so Walker stayed away from the plane but emergency personnel responded immediately."At this point I'm just really pleased that everyone is OK," Walker said. "It was wonderful to see him (the pilot) walk away from this."


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The Post Independent Updated Oct 23, 2004 11:34PM Published Oct 23, 2004 12:00AM Copyright 2004 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.