airport

A pilot lands from the west in this Planet file photo. Two people were killed Thanksgiving Day when a single-engine aircraft piloted by Bryan Kill crashed in the Last Dollar development. Passenger Mana Mohtasham also died in the crash. (Planet file photo)

The second victim of the plane crash that occurred east of the Telluride Regional Airport on Thanksgiving Day has been identified. According to San Miguel County Coroner Emil Sante, Mana Mohtasham, 37, perished along with pilot Bryan L. Kill, 48, when the small aircraft went down in the Last Dollar development, about a half-mile from the airport’s east end of the runway. Officials said Mohtasham is from Southern California, with relatives in California and Iran.

The Telluride Regional Airport lost contact with the single-engine plane at approximately 1:30 p.m. Thursday. Several witnesses reported seeing it go down, the San Miguel County Sheriff's Office said. The office said the crash site was found about an hour later and both people on board were dead.

Sheriff Bill Masters said the first notification came from airport personnel who reported that the craft’s emergency beacon was emitting a signal. A private citizen contacted Masters directly and told him she was “quite certain it had crashed.” Numerous calls to dispatch were also received. Members of the San Miguel Sheriff's Office, San Miguel Search and Rescue, Telluride Fire Department/EMS, and the San Miguel County Coroner responded to the scene within an hour after the initial call.

According to Masters, the single-engine aircraft narrowly avoided crashing into a house.

“We found the wreckage close to a house in Last Dollar,” Masters said. “It was just west of the last house about 30 yards away.”

Kill, who had recently moved from Huachuca City, Arizona, to Telluride, was flying a popular kit-built aircraft, the Van’s RV-4. The two-passenger aircraft is powered by a single engine. According to the Van’s website, the RV-4 seats two people in a tandem seating configuration with the pilot accommodated in the front seat. It is classified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as an experimental aircraft. The RV-4 aircraft were developed in the 1970s and first entered the market in 1980.

Kill and Mohtasham’s friends and relatives left heart-broken messages on the sheriff’s department social media page. Mohtasham’s cousin, Fardin Valipour, wrote, “Your life was a blessing, your memory is a treasure, you are loved beyond words, missed beyond measure.”

Kill’s friend of 25 years, Jessica Jakobsen, wrote that he was “coming home” to a Thanksgiving dinner in Telluride. “Life will never be the same,” Jakobsen wrote. “He was the kindest, most selfless, patient, badass, humble and fun person you could ever hope to know. We were so lucky to call him family. He loved Telluride and the mountains so much.”

Masters said the emotional outpouring from the community when an airplane crashes is extraordinary, though he could not put a finger on why that is.

“There’s an emotion attached to airplane crashes that we don’t attach to car crashes,” he observed.

The crash is the second in as many months in Telluride. On Oct. 5, two newlyweds from Florida died when their single-engine plane crashed shortly after takeoff from the airport. Thirty-year-old Costas John Sivyllis and 33-year-old Lindsey Vogelaar of Port Orange, Florida, died in the crash in Ingram Basin, east of the Town of Telluride in the San Juan Mountains.

According to the coroner’s report, Kill is survived by his father Robert and mother Willene, and brothers Richard and Chad. 

Mohtasham is survived by her father Farhad and mother Zari, and brother Mazdak.

National Transportation Safety Board and FAA will investigate the cause of the crash. Airport manager Kenny Maenpa said the board’s preliminary report will take several months.