Aspen resident ID’d as pilot in Sunday plane crash near Glenwood Springs

John Stroud
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
Emergency workers transport one of the victims from a June plane crash south of Glenwood Springs to a waiting ambulance.
John Stroud / Post Independent |

The pilot and new owner of the plane that crashed Sunday south of Glenwood Springs is an Aspen resident, a former owner of the plane said Monday.

Benoit De Lavaissiere bought the 1964 Cessna 182G within the past month, John Elling of Santa Fe, New Mexico, told the Post Independent by email.

According to investigators, De Lavaissiere, 54, and a passenger were injured when the plane went down in a field next to the Rio Grande Trail about 5 miles south of the Glenwood Springs Municipal Airport.

The two were taken to Valley View Hospital.

Federal authorities concluded their site inspection Sunday night, Garfield County sheriff’s spokesman Walt Stowe said, and the crash investigation will now be turned over to the National Transportation Safety Board. Crews from Beegles Aircraft Service were disassembling the wreckage Monday afternoon into the evening to haul it away.

Elling and two other Santa Fe residents are listed in federal records as owners of the plane, but that’s “because he [De Lavaissiere] submitted the registration only two weeks ago” to the Federal Aviation Administration, Elling said.

The crash occurred shortly before 10 a.m. Sunday. According to witnesses, the plane appeared to be having engine problems.

De Lavaissiere, reached by phone Monday by the Daily Sentinel of Grand Junction in his Valley View Hospital room, from which he expected to be released Monday night. He said he was flying from Aspen to Paonia when he started losing altitude and sought to land at Glenwood Springs.

“I was going down fast,” he told the Sentinel. He indentified his passenger as Dmitri Arapu, also of Aspen, and said both of them would be OK.

In a news release, Stowe said, “It appeared that the pilot was attempting an emergency landing when the plane flipped over onto its back. The passenger was able to get out of the plane, while the pilot had to wait for emergency responders to free him from the wreckage.”

The initial investigation indicated the plane had attempted an emergency landing in the field behind the old Sopris Restaurant where the River Edge subdivision is being planned. De Lavaissiere told the Sentinel he hit a ditch, causing the airplane to tip over and land upside down.

De Lavaissiere will be responsible for the salvage and reclamation of the airplane wreckage from the site.