Regional: Victims identified in Loveland Ski Area plane crash as Ohio family on vacation
The victims from Monday’s Loveland Ski Area plane crash have been identified, according to the Clear Creek County Coroner’s Office.
The deceased are James Kerker, 43; Amy Kerker, 39; and Lucas Kerker, 6; of Raymond, Ohio. The Kerker’s were on a family vacation, according to a Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Office news release.
The aircraft also has been identified as a Piper PA 28-235, which took off at 8:10 a.m. from Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport in Broomfield, according to the release. It was bound for Moab, Utah.
Identifying information from the plane has not yet been released, as the Piper’s tail was destroyed in the crash, according to reports by the Denver Post. The cause of the crash remains under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board.
According to eyewitness accounts from a hiker who has now been identified as Rico Argentati, of Centennial, the single-engine Piper was traveling west at about 8:45 a.m. Monday, June 30, over Loveland Ski Area towards Loveland Pass. The plane did not appear to have enough altitude, Argentati told the Denver Post, banked back east towards Denver, lost power and crashed near Chair 5 at Loveland Valley, the beginner area at Loveland Ski Area.
Capt. Randy Long, of the sheriff’s office, said Monday from the scene that the plane immediately burst into flames when it crashed. The fire was burning a 40-foot by 40-foot area in the tress above the Loveland Valley parking lot.
A wildland helicopter was called in from Fort Collins to assist with containment efforts, but the firefighting aircraft wasn’t put into service. Long said the fire was mostly confined to the immediate area of the crash, was burning on the ground and was not in danger of spreading to nearby trees.
The fire was contained at about 11:15 a.m. At that time sheriff’s office investigators and the Clear Creek County coroner were allowed to inspect the crash site, Long said. Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board joined first responders shortly after noon.
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Over 75,000 hikers visited Hanging Lake during this year’s peak season. Via signage, the city hopes to point more of those hikers also in the direction of downtown Glenwood Springs.