Durango, CO Commuter Plane Crashes, Jan 1988

Durango Colorado 1-20-1988.jpg Durango ColO Continental Express Flt 2286 1-19-1988 2.jpg Durango COLO Continental Express Flt 2286 1-19-1988.jpg


Durango, Colo. (AP) -- A commuter plane carrying 17 people crashed in a mountainous area near here, killing eight and forcing survivors, including one carrying a small child, to wade through waist-deep snow to summon help.
The nine survivors of Tuesday night's crash were transported to Mercy Medical Center here for treatment of injuries that ranged from lacerations, frostbite and hypothermia to head and internal injuries, hospital spokeswoman Jane Brown said today.
Two, including the 4-year-old girl, were treated and released, five were in good condition, one was in serious condition and one was critically injured, the spokeswoman said.
Rescuers were led to the twin-engine, turboprop's wreckage by the footprints of seen survivors, who walked from one-half to three-quarters of a mile through snow measuring up to 4 feet before reaching the nearest road, authorities said.
Two others were extricated from the reckage after snow tractors and a bulldozer were used to cut a trail through the scrub oak and brush along the rolling hills and hummocks.
"Access is difficult," La Plata Sheriff Bill Gardner said. "It took us over an hour to even get personnel to them."
Brown said one survivor told her the crash was "like landing on a pillow in that the snow was so deep."
"One gentleman commented that both wings were ripped off the plane and he managed to escape through a hole in the fuselage," she said.
Brown said the hospital was withholding the identities of the victims pending notification of relatives.
The plane was carrying 15 passengers and two crew members to Durango from Denver when it went down at 7:30 p.m., 10 miles east of Durango in light snowfall, said Bruce Hicks, a spokesman for Continental Airlines in Houston.
The craft is owned by Colorado Springs-based Trans Colorado, which leases planes and crew to Rocky Mountain Airways, a Continental subsidiary that flies under the name of Continental Express.
"The plane has sustained substantial damage, but it is structurally intact," said Sheriff's Sgt. Dan Bender.
Survivor Peter Schauer, a consultant from Missouri, walked about half an hour from the wreckage to a house just off highway U.S. 160.
Calls for help were made from the house, said its owner, Thelma Tate.
"He said it (the plane) was too low. He's sure the plane was functioning well," Tate said.
"(The pilot) tipped the wing and caught a tree with that tipped wing and it twirled the plane around and it just nosed into the hill," she said. "Of course, there's a lot of snow and that cushioned it so it didn't catch on fire or anything."

Chronicle Telegram Elyria Ohio 1988-01-20

List of Casualties.
Pilot Capt. STEVE SILVER, 36, Denver, Colo.
Co-pilot RALPH HARVEY, 42, Littleton, Colo.
KEVIN LaVIGNE, 33, Denver, Colo.
MARK WHEELER, 36, Denver, Colo.
ROBERT KASPAREK, 51, Lakewood, Fla.
DON COX, 66, Corpus Christi, Texas.
BORIS USKERT, 43, San Francisco, Calif.
LEE VOLLMER, 25, Longmont, Colo. (Died in hospital)