Two Roaring Fork Valley residents were among three people killed when a small plane, which departed from Aspen, crashed Wednesday in a remote area of West Texas.
Basalt resident Matthew Axtell, 35, and Carbondale resident David Bradley Patton, 51, were killed, along with pilot Thomas Joseph Taylor, 61, of Abilene, Texas.
Colter Smith, a partner and broker associate at Aspen Associates Realty Group, grew up with Axtell in Aspen and both attended Aspen High School.
“Matt was the type of guy who would help out a friend in any situation,” Smith said. “He was a great friend. Matt was really fun. He loved boating and entertaining. He was a real stand-up guy.”
Axtell owns Axe Trucking LLC in Carbondale.
A Federal Aviation Administration statement said the single-engine Piper PA-46 aircraft dropped off of air-traffic radar shortly before 5 p.m. Wednesday while en route from Aspen to Brenham, Texas. Law enforcement officials searching for the aircraft found the wreckage near Morton, about 50 miles west of Lubbock, Texas.
Taylor, a Texas oilman who once chaired the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers, was piloting the plane, the sheriff’s office said. The aircraft was registered to an Abilene-based cattle ranching corporation. A spokesman for the alliance said that Taylor often traveled to Aspen for vacation.
A neighbor who lives directly across from the pasture where the plane crashed said there were terrible storms in the area with strong winds reaching 40 miles per hour and ping-pong-ball sized hail.
Investigators from the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board have been dispatched.
The Associated Press and Lubbock Avalanche-Journal contributed to this report.