ERIE, CO - All five people aboard a small plane that crashed near an airport north of Denver have died, a spokesman for the National Transportation Board said.
The Piper PA-46 airplane crashed near the Erie Municipal Airport about 11:50 a.m., NTSB spokesman Peter Knudson said Sunday afternoon. Shortly after the crash, three people were declared dead at the scene and two were taken to hospitals.
Erie Police Cmdr. Lee Mathis said the six-passenger plane crashed a few hundred yards northwest of the runway, but he did not know if it was landing or taking off. A photo of the crash site posted on the Boulder Daily Camera's website showed the mangled wreckage of the plane, which crashed into a grassy field.
Jan Culver told the newspaper she was with a friend in a pasture near the airport when she heard the plane and saw it flying "really, really low."
"We heard it sputtering," she said. "Then there was no sound. We knew it was a crash."
She saw a small cloud of dust as the plane crashed and, because she has some medical knowledge, went to the scene to help, Culver said.
"It was a plane upside down with some folks already out of the plane," she said. "I could tell there were some bad injuries."
Erie is about 20 miles north of Denver.