JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. — The pilot and only occupant of a small aircraft has died after the plane crashed into a remote area of Jefferson County, the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office (JCSO) said.
On Monday, the Jefferson County Coroner's Office identified the pilot as Lelon Lewis, 66, of Lakewood.
The single-engine aircraft was reported missing Saturday night, and it was located Sunday morning after search crews were able to see the plane from the air just after 10 a.m., according to JCSO Public Information Officer Mike Taplin.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the single-engine Magnus Fusion 212 crashed overnight about 20 miles south of Conifer, with just the pilot on board. The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board will investigate.
"The area that it was found was very difficult to get to. It took several hours for Alpine Rescue to get to him," said Sgt. Rod Parker with JCSO. "It’s about 2 miles down the trailhead. And about 1/2 off of that trail on the side of a hill."
The U.S. Air Force (USAF) received a notification from the aircraft's emergency beacon and contacted JCSO Saturday night at about 8:15 p.m., according to Taplin. The aircraft was reported to have gone missing in the area of Wigwam Creek Trail, JCSO said.
"We had to hike in about 2 miles or so up some steep terrain to find the plane. It was very difficult to locate," said Dawn Wilson with the Alpine Rescue Team. "It’s not the best scene to come upon. That’s for sure."
More than 20 members of the Alpine Rescue Team hiked for miles to get to the crash site. A plane with the Civilian Air Patrol guided the team and helped spot the wreckage.
"The plane was somewhat intact. But there was debris within a huge area. I’d say a 200-square-foot area," said Wilson. "We are volunteers. This isn’t something we see every day."
The plane departed the Colorado Air & Space Port in Watkins on Saturday. The wreckage now lies deep in the mountains of Jefferson County.
"The plane is kind of in the middle of nowhere," said Wilson.
Magnus Aircraft released the following statement about the incident:
"We are sorry to hear about the accident on Saturday evening in Colorado. Our sincere condolences to the family and friends of the pilot. The N434MA, 2016 Magnus Fusion 212 was sold to its new owner in late March and was relocated to Denver, CO.
"Magnus Aircraft, Inc. is working with the FAA and NTSB to help the investigation process."
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