Walden, CO Airplane Crash in Blizzard, Dec 1978
Killed was MARY KAY HARDIN, 29, of Steamboat Springs. Jackson County Coroner JIM SHAWVER said she apparently died of a skull fracture.
The injured initially were taken to a temporary rescue center in a log cabin at a campground about 50 miles from the nearest hospital.
Only four were able to walk. The others were carried in baskets of on plywood boards. Some rode inside Sno-Cats, and others wrapped in down sleeping bags were strapped to the outside of the tractor-like tracked vehicles.
State Patrolman JIM CURE said KLOPFENSTEIN was "incoherent and moaning" when rescuers reached the plane. The pilot apparently suffered from exposure and frostbite when the cockpit window broke.
CARL NORRIS, one of the first rescuers on the crash scene, said it looked like the plane clipped a power tower with either the right wing tip of right tail assembly.
"I think he was tryin' to outfly that mountain. He was flyin' up and he lacked about, maybe a thousand feet of makin' it," said NORRIS, line superintendent for Mountain Parks Electric.
"I'd say he hit the tower about 20 feet up but under the wires and kind of settled down into the snow. An Otter don't travel that fast, you know."
NORRIS said passengers told him they had no warning before the crash.
"All of a sudden we hit a little turbulence and ran right into the ground,â€ said passenger VERN BELL, 19, of Lakewood. "...After we hit, I guess I was knocked out for just a little while. I was in a daze, didn't know who I was. I thought I was in a nightmare."
Amid screams and moans, the few lights on the plane soon went out, he said. Those who were able helped wrap other, more seriously injured passengers in blankets and coats.
The crash site was about 110 miles northwest of Denver and 15 miles southwest of Walden in a range of wilderness mountains that separates Steamboat Springs from a broad valley called North Park.
The Chillicothe Constitution Tribune Missouri 1978-12-06