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Colorado Plane Crash Kills 18Aired March 30, 2001 - 5:03 a.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LINDA STOUFFER, CNN ANCHOR: Last night, a charter plane crashed into a hillside near Aspen, Colorado, and all 18 people aboard were killed.
CNN national correspondent Mike Boettcher is on the phone. He joins us now from Aspen, with the very latest.
Mike, hello, what can you tell us right now?
MIKE BOETTCHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Linda.
I'm at the airport about 300 yards away from the impact site. The crash occurred at 7:00 p.m. yesterday evening, while the plane was on an instrument landing approach into Aspen Airport.
This is a very difficult airport to land in. Three sides are surrounded by mountains, so there's basically just one way in and one way out. That's through the North route when there is bad weather. And there was bad weather: low visibility and moderate to light snow showers, at the time.
The plane originated from Burbank, California. It is a Gulfstream business jet. It stopped at Los Angeles International Airport, to pick up more passengers, and was headed here for the expected 7:00 p.m. arrival when something went terribly wrong.
Eyewitnesses at the site say there are only small pieces of the wreckage left, some no bigger than just a small table. The victims are still there at the site.
Investigators will be arriving soon from the National Transportation Safety Board.
Eyewitnesses who live nearby and who were on the highway as the plane went down say they saw a plane in a strange nose-up attitude.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RON HARDING, WITNESS: Well, we saw a plane come over the top of us, and then we heard a loud crash and a big fireball. And as we turned the corner, we could see everything was on fire. And we have five ladies with us from the physical therapy department in Los Angeles, and they all jumped out, ran into the field, and jumped the fence and tried to find out if anybody was alive and if they could help anybody.
GREG RESZEL, WITNESS: ... probably about 200 feet in front of me, probably 100 feet up, and it lurched and was going very, very slowly -- so much that for a moment I thought it was a helicopter. There was no noise -- I heard no engine noise -- and then after that lurch, it was almost vertical in the air, and it went across the road and slammed into the hillside there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOETTCHER: The site is being secured now by the Pitkin County Sheriff's office.
This is an airport utilized by the rich and famous, and that is one of the reasons there is so much focus on this. People are wondering who might be on that plane. We have no identification of the passengers. We know it belonged to a company called Airborne Charter, which is part of a motion picture company called Cinergi, which has made several Hollywood blockbusters. As of yet, we don't know who was on that plane.
STOUFFER: Mike, quick question for you. I know, as you said, that we don't have the names of the people who were onboard that plane. Can you talk for a moment about why? Are investigators just trying to notify the families? Do they know who was on the plane?
BOETTCHER: Well, I was at the Pitkin County Sheriff's office, and I got the impression there that they didn't know in the particular office I was at. I believe that some people there know some of the occupants of the aircraft. I know they were fielding calls from people who were concerned, in the Los Angeles area, who thought that perhaps their loved one, their relative, was onboard the plane, and they were taking those calls.
There is a press conference scheduled for two hours from now, 7:00 a.m. Eastern time, 5:00 a.m. Mountain, and we may know more then, Linda.
STOUFFER: And we will wait for that, definitely: 7:00 a.m. Eastern time, we will have coverage of that.
Mike Boettcher, thank you very much for the details from Aspen.
We'll be following all the developments in this and bringing you more as soon as we get them.
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