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MEEKER | The Rio Blanco County Sheriff’s Office Communication Center received a call from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Saturday morning that a plane had crashed approximately 32 miles east of Meeker. The information stated that the FAA was getting a good emergency locator transmission from the plane and the plane was a small Cirrus four-seater aircraft with tail number N5VK. At that time the FAA did not have an exact location. Further information indicated that other aircraft were hearing broadcasts from the downed plane and the parties stated they were OK. The temperature was reported to be 18 below zero.
Rio Blanco County Search and Rescue was activated and a command center was set-up. Information came in from the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and Civil Air Patrol National Radar Analysis Team and the location was determined to be in Garfield County.
The incident coordinator contacted the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office and a unified command was set up between all the agencies involved, coordinating on a conference call that stayed online for the entire mission. The sheriffs from both Garfield and Rio Blanco County coordinated resources and plans to support the mission.
Meeker Fire and EMS assisted with setting up a landing zone for helicopter operations if needed. Coulter Aviation responded and was able to locate the exact location of the crash (N40 02’ 30.14” W107 10’ 58.94”).
Due to the terrain of the coordinates provided, ground teams were not sent out and St. Mary’s Care flight and Classic Air Medical were contacted. The Colorado National Guard Joint Operations Center was also contacted and a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter was also requested.
St. Mary’s Care flight and Classic Air Medical were able to land and extract the pilot and one other party and transported them to Meeker. The pilot and his wife are from Colorado Springs, Colo.