DENVER (AP) – A pilot who survived a midair collision in Colorado said she never saw the other aircraft but heard a loud bang and felt her plane roll to the right, an aviation investigator said Tuesday.
Two people in the other plane died when it plummeted to the ground after the March 23 collision in clear skies near Longmont, about 30 miles north of downtown Denver.
National Transportation Safety Board investigator Timothy Sorensen said the surviving pilot said she didn’t see the other plane before or after the crash.
That pilot, 72-year-old Beverly Cameron, suffered minor injuries when she crash-landed minutes later near Vance Brand Airport in Longmont airport. She was the only person aboard.
Authorities said Cameron was about 1,000 yards from the airport runway when her single-engine Cessna 180 clipped four overhead power lines and crashed into a nearby fence. The engine separated from the rest of the plane on impact and the body of the aircraft was crushed and mangled.
Cameron didn’t immediately return a telephone call for comment.
The two killed in the other plane were 30-year-old Ryan Brungardt, an instructor pilot, and 64-year-old Edward “Lee” Omohundro, a student pilot. Their single-engine Cessna 172S crashed about a half-mile from a Walmart in southeast Longmont, close to two homes.
Dustin Nelson, who was working near the site, said the plane was crumpled “like a smashed beer can. … The tail end is literally in the nose of the plane.”
He said there was nothing he and others could do after they rushed to the scene.
Another witness who was working nearby, Tom Ruddick, said he felt and heard a shock wave at the time of the crash.
“It almost knocked me off my ladder,” he said.
The NTSB released a preliminary report on the crash late Monday. It described some of the circumstances but did not speculate on why the planes collided.
It often takes months for the NTSB to complete an investigation and release a final report.
Officials of the NTSB and the Federal Aviation Administration said any decision about a criminal investigation would likely be handled by local authorities. It wasn’t immediately clear if the collision occurred in Weld or Boulder County. Sheriff’s investigators didn’t immediately return calls.
– By Dan Elliott, AP Writer
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