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Updated Jan 5, 2014, 5:47 pm Originally posted Jan 5, 2014, 2:23 pm
A private jet crashed at the Aspen, Colo., airport Sunday after a flight from Tucson. One man was killed in the crash, and two others were injured. The 1994 Canadair Challenger twin-engine business jet had flown from Toluca, Mexico, to Tucson earlier Sunday morning.
Co-pilot Sergio Emilio Carranza Brabat, a 54-year-old Mexican national, was killed in the crash, authorities said. The names of the plane's pilot and a passenger —also a pilot — are being withheld by the National Transportation Safety Board.
The 1994 Canadair Challenger 600 twin-engine business jet crashed while landing after the two-hour flight, according to FlightAware.com.
"The aircraft was fully engulfed in flames and had flipped over after impact," said Alex Burchetta, director of operations for the Pitkin County Sheriff's Office. There were only three people aboard the plane. Carranza Brabat was declared dead at the scene, while the two injured have "moderate to severe injuries" that are not thought to be burns, Burchetta said.
Describing the crash, which occurred at 12:23 p.m., as "horrible," witnesses said the plane burst into flames. Photos of the crash show the charred wreckage of the plane upside down.
The plane flew in at least two circles near the airport before attempting to land, a map on FlightAware showed (see sidebar image).
The aircraft, registration number N115WF, had flown from Toluca, Mexico (near Mexico City), to Tucson earlier Sunday morning, according to flight plans. The jet spent just over an hour at Tucson International Airport, arriving at 8:47 a.m. and departing at 10:04 a.m., records show. The plane was to have landed in Aspen at 12:12 p.m.
The plane is owned by Bank of Utah Trustee, who took over the registration on Dec. 16 from Connecticut-based Canal Air LLC.
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Winds at Aspen-Pitkin County Airport were reported at 10-18 mph, with gusts up to 25 mph., Clouds were lowering from 4600 to 3700 feet, and visibility of 7-9 miles due to haze. The airport is at just over 7,800 feet.
The airport is closed while authorities investigate the crash. NTSB officials were en route to Aspen to take over the investigation, Burchetta said Sunday afternoon.
The crash at the ski-resort community southwest of Denver was the subject of celebrity attention on social media.
"Horrible plane crash here at Aspen airport. Exploded into flames as it was landing. I think it was a private jet," comedian Kevin Nealon tweeted.
Later Nealon 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."