Originally published February 19, 2012 at 06:04p.m., updated February 20, 2012 at 10:07a.m.
Steamboat Springs Two people were killed and four more were injured when a private plane from Texas crashed short of the runway at Yampa Valley Regional Airport during a snowstorm Sunday afternoon.
Airport Manager Dave Ruppel said the plane, a Cessna 414A, was approaching the airport from the west when it crashed at about 3:28 p.m. just south of the runway.
“They were right in the middle of a major snowstorm,” Ruppel said. “They had zero visibility.”
The surviving passengers were taken to Yampa Valley Medical Center. Three of them were listed in fair condition this morning, while a fourth is in critical condition. Rescue teams said all four survivors were conscious when they were taken from the airplane to Yampa Valley Medical Center.
Ruppel said the plane was a business-class aircraft likely capable of carrying eight passengers. According to Federal Aviation Administration records, the plane is registered to Scott A. Humpal of Woodsboro, Texas. The fixed-wing, multiengine Cessna was manufactured in 1978.
Humpal is the owner of Humpal Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine Centers, with six facilities in Texas and 120 employees. Late Sunday night, Scott Humpal posted a message on his Facebook page that he had been in a plane crash in Steamboat and that his wife, Gaby, and the plane's pilot passed away.
"We are devastated ... my wife was a woman of God and I am sure that Jesus welcomed her into heaven with open arms ... the boys and I have several injuries but will recover," the post reads. It goes on to say that a fourth passenger, Sara, suffered serious injuries, and he asks his friends and family to pray for her.
The Humpals had been married 16 years. They have three children — sons Tad, 18, and Dillon, 13, and a daughter, Sara, 10. Scott, Tad and Dillon Humpal are the patients listed in fair condition; Sara is the patient in critical condition.
Airport officials confirmed Monday that the deceased are Gaby Humpal and pilot Hans Vandervlugt, 76.
According to the website FlightAware.com, the plane departed from Corpus Christi International Airport at 9 a.m. Sunday and landed at Dalhart, Texas, Municipal Airport a few hours later. The plane departed for YVRA shortly thereafter.
“Thankfully, not everyone was killed, and I think that’s the biggest concern,” Ruppel said. “(The crash) is very hard on everyone involved.”
Tyler Whitmore, the airport’s public safety director and fire chief, said firefighters stationed at the airport reached the crash site less than five minutes after they received the 911 call announcing the crash. He said the crash site was about 300 yards from the airport’s fire station. The plane did not catch fire and landed right side up, he said.
Responding agencies included the West Routt Fire Protection District, YYRA’s firefighting crews, Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue, YVRA’s administrative staff, and the Colorado State Patrol.
YVRA was closed to all inbound and outbound air traffic Sunday afternoon and evening. The FAA cleared airport operations to continue at 7:15 a.m. this morning, and airport officials said all regularly scheduled flights are a go for the remainder of the day. This morning's United Airlines flight due to depart YVRA at 6:26 a.m. was canceled.
Ruppel said investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board are expected to arrive in Hayden at 9 a.m. today to investigate the crash.
The Steamboat Today will update this story as more information becomes available.
To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com