Both of the men killed when a small plane crashed into a reservoir southwest of Berthoud were licensed commercial pilots and both had been recognized by the Federal Aviation Administration for meeting or exceeding the agency’s standards.

Patrick Blankemeier, 58, of Arvada and James Griffith, 23, of Denver died in the crash, which happened Monday morning at Culver Reservoir about two miles southwest of Berthoud in Larimer County.

Both suffered multiple blunt force injuries, according to the Larimer County Coroner’s Office.

An investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board was working Tuesday to determine the cause of the crash – a process that may take a year or more.

The plane, a Cessna 172 manufactured in 2005, was operated by McAir Aviation, located at the Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport in Broomfield, where Blankemeier was the chief flight instructor since 2014.

According to FAA records, he held a commercial pilot’s license since September 2005.
Griffith had his commercial pilot’s license since last August, according to the FAA.

It appears both men were licensed to fly before obtaining their commercial certificates, but FAA records that could provide that information were not immediately available.

Both men had valid medical certificates.

Blankemeier and Griffith were flying Monday morning when their plane crashed into Culver Reservoir about 50 feet from shore. According to the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office the two men were submerged in the cold water for 50 minutes before they were pulled from the plane.

They were both pronounced dead at a hospital.

Blankemeier had previously been a flight instructor in California.