Aspen Aviation jet slides off runway |

Aspen Aviation jet slides off runway

Kathy Heicher and Scott N. MillerVail correspondents

An Aspen Aviation jet went off the north side of the runway Friday morning at Eagle County Airport, injuring a cancer patient from Woody Creek. A minor fire erupted and Mark Hudgens, a well-known philanthropist, broke his back, according to his wife.There were four people in the plane around 9 a.m. when it crashed a pilot, co-pilot, a nurse and Hudgens, a patient of the Shaw Cancer Center in Edwards. The aircraft was an air ambulance owned by Aspen Aviation. Gene Slaughter, an employee of a car rental agency at the airport, said he saw the jet go off the runway. Brian Bortz, owner of Dig It landscaping, was driving by when the mishap occurred. “I saw a big commercial plane doing touch and goes, then a another plane came in really fast,” Bortz said. “I saw a lot of black smoke.” He saw one person walk away from the crash and two taken out on stretchers, he said. The fire was quickly put out by airport firefighters and the Gypsum and Eagle fire departments. The airport was closed for less than 30 minutes, and planes were landing and taking off as fire crews continued to work along the runway.No one knows what went wrong, said Tish Leslie of Aspen Aviation.The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the accident.

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