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N41345 accident description

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Crash location Unknown
Nearest city Howard, CO
38.448608°N, 105.835285°W

Tail number N41345
Accident date 08 Feb 1995
Aircraft type Piper PA-32-300
Additional details: None

NTSB description

On February 8, 1995, about 1445 mountain standard time, a Piper PA-32-300, N41345, was destroyed during a forced landing near Howard, Colorado. The airplane was reported missing at 2016 and was found February 10, 1995, about 1400. The pilot and pilot rated passenger received minor injuries; however, the pilot died prior to being rescued due to hypothermia. The flight was an on-demand air taxi operating under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 135, and was transporting a corpse. No flight plan was filed and instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the accident site.

According to the passenger, the flight departed Salida about 1430 and was in a climb to clear the 14,000 plus feet above mean sea level (msl) Sangre De Cristo mountains south of Salida, and was in the clouds at 15,000 feet msl when turbulence was encountered. While in a climb configuration, the aircraft was descending about 2,500 feet per minute. The passenger said they emerged from the base of the clouds at about 12,000 feet msl and the pilot attempted to land on a frozen lake at 11,800 feet msl. The passenger thought the engine and left wing came off following touchdown and the left main landing gear came up through the cockpit striking both he and the pilot. To his best recollection, the passenger said he thought the accident occurred about 1445.

In providing an overview of post crash survival, the passenger said they were both in relatively good condition, but lightly dressed, and spent the night of February 8, 1995, in the aircraft.

They started to walk out on February 9th. According to the passenger, progress was slow due to high winds and deep snow.

By mid afternoon, the pilot lost a shoe and was becoming increasingly disoriented. According to the passenger, they decided for him to go on ahead and bring rescuers back. He said that he spent the night of February 9th under an overhang, and met rescuers on the 10th. By the time rescuers found the pilot, he had expired. The medical examiner attributed the cause of death to hypothermia.

According to information provided by the persons who recovered the aircraft, the accident site revealed evidence that during the impact sequence, the left wing separated remaining attached by control cables, and the left main landing gear assembly penetrated the cockpit area. The engine remained partially attached and folded under the aircraft. No evidence was found of preimpact failure or malfunction and the passenger said there were no aircraft problems.

The passenger stated that weather at takeoff from Salida was about 12,000 overcast with the tops of the surrounding mountain peaks obscured by clouds. The planned route after departing Salida was over Alamosa, Colorado, Farmington, New Mexico, and into Cortez, Colorado, from the south. Except for the departure area, weather along this proposed route was visual conditions.

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