Snowmass Village man recovering after plane crash
Snowmass Village photographer Richard Shenk has entered a different phase in his battle to recover from burns and other severe injuries he suffered in an airplane crash in April, according to his family.
Shenk had been transferred from a hospital in Louisville, Ky., to a hospital in Cincinnati and most recently to the Drake Rehabilitation Center in Cincinnati, his son David said Friday.
“He’s still very sick,” David said. “He has a whole range of problems that make recovery slow and difficult.”
Shenk was flying alone in his Cessna 210 Centurion on April 6 when he crashed in a residential neighborhood near a Kentucky airport. No cause of the crash has been determined. A preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board said the plane stalled during the approach to the airport.
Shenk suffered extensive burns as well as a spinal cord injury and a throat injury, David said. While Richard has overcome some of the dangers in dealing with burns, he still faces extensive medical treatment and rehabilitation.
“He’s certainly made a lot of progress but he’s not out of the woods yet,” David said.
Richard, 68, first moved to the Aspen area part-time about 15 years ago and has lived full-time in Snowmass Village for roughly eight years. He is well-known in the community and could always be found working out in the gym early in the morning and undertaking outdoor activities throughout the day. He was an avid skier, cyclist and hiker, David said. Richard’s passion in earlier days was running.
David said his dad participated in one athletic endeavor or another virtually every day and took delight in being in better shape than his three sons, who are half his age.
The Shenk family believes Richard’s top physical condition helped him survive his injuries and they feel the outpouring of love and support from Aspen and Snowmass helped as well.
“We feel the community interest and support has helped keep my dad alive,” David said. “He very much feels the love and support.”
Doctors have noted Richard has an “iron will” and desire to live, according to his son. He is dealing with the mental side of the tough daily challenges as well as could be expected, David said. Richard has been in hospitals for more than 3 1/2 months; he was unconscious for two months.
David said his dad told him that his spirituality has been reaffirmed by all the support he has received from the community. His is active member of the Aspen-Snowmass Jewish community.
The goal of Richard and his wife Betty Ann is to return to Colorado. When exactly that can happen is unknown at this point, David said.
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