MORTON, Texas — A single-engine airplane en route to Central Texas crashed in a remote area of West Texas, killing all three people aboard, including Basalt resident Matthew Axtell and Carbondale resident David Bradley Patton.
The sheriff’s office in Cochran, Texas, released the names of the three victims. The passengers were Axtell, 35, and Patton, 51. The pilot was identified as Thomas Joseph Taylor, 61, from Abilene, Texas.
Colter Smith, a partner and broker associate at Aspen Associates Realty Group, grew up with Axtell in Aspen and both attended Aspen High School.
“Matt was the type of guy who would help out a friend in any situation,” Smith told the Aspen Times. “He was a great friend. Matt was really fun. He loved boating and entertaining. He was a real stand-up guy.”
Axtell owns Axe Trucking LLC in Carbondale.
Taylor, a Texas oilman who once chaired the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers, was piloting the plane, the sheriff’s office said. A spokesman for the alliance said that Taylor often traveled to Aspen for vacation. The plane is owned by Flying Lazy T LLC in Abilene, a town of about 120,000 resident roughly 150 miles west of Fort Worth.
A Federal Aviation Administration statement said the single-engine Piper PA-46 aircraft dropped off of air traffic radar shortly before 5 p.m. Wednesday while en route from Aspen to Brenham. Law enforcement officials searching for the aircraft found the wreckage near Morton, about 50 miles west of Lubbock.
A neighbor who lives directly across from the pasture where the plane crashed said there were terrible storms in the area with strong winds reaching 40 miles per hour and ping-pong-ball sized hail.
The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating.
The Aspen Times, Associated Press and Lubbock Avalanche-Journal contributed to this report.