LARIMER COUNTY, Colo. — The pilot of a small plane that crashed in northern Colorado in September last year has been criminally charged.
The Larimer County Sheriff's Office (LCSO) said 35-year-old Ahmed El-Kaddah was flying a Cessna 172M near Horsetooth Reservoir around 7 p.m. Sept. 11. Witnesses told investigators the plane was being flown recklessly and buzzed several boats before turning west toward the mountains and crashing near Horsetooth Mountain.
El-Kaddah and his passenger survived the crash with only minor injuries, the Sheriff's Office said.
The pilot told authorities the plane had a mechanical issue, but an investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) determined the crash wasn't due to any "mechanical malfunctions or anomalies."
The NTSB report said statements made by El-Kaddah were inconsistent with recovered flight data.
The Sheriff's Office contacted the FBI following the crash, but the FBI said El-Kaddah's actions did not meet the criteria for filing federal charges, the Sheriff's Office said.
The case was then presented to the 8th Judicial District Attorney's Office, which filed the following charges against El-Kaddah:
- Five counts of menacing - class 1 misdemeanor
- Six counts of reckless endangerment - class 2 misdemeanor
“The fact that someone would show such reckless disregard for the lives of others is concerning, but it’s even more disturbing on a date that holds so much pain and significance for our country,” said Larimer County Sheriff John Feyen. “The lack of legal accountability is frustrating to say the least, but in this and every case, we’ll continue to support victims and hold suspects accountable within the confines of the law.”
In a news release, LCSO said the 2021 Colorado Misdemeanor Reform legislation "narrowed the definition of felony menacing; as a result, threatening immediate serious injury with a vehicle or aircraft is classified as a misdemeanor under current law."
LCSO said El-Kaddah left the U.S. shortly after the crash and has not returned. A warrant has been issued for his arrest upon his return to the U.S.
Anyone with information on El-Kaddah's location is asked to call Investigator Tyler Thomas at 970-498-5167.
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