Small plane crash claims two

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By Roger Snodgrass

Two people were killed Monday when a small plane crashed south of Santa Fe.

Authorities are still unable to identify the pilot and passenger in the plane, but a spokesperson for the state police said investigators believe the single-engine plane was on its way to Los Alamos.

State police officers were notified just after 6:45 a.m. Monday of the downed plane off State Road 344 and Highway 14 in a wooded area near Golden.

Peter Olson, a state police spokesperson, said he was at the site at about noon.

“There were burned trees and a badly damaged aircraft,” he said. “As the crow flies, it was 300-400 meters off the road in fairly rugged country. It was very rocky.”

When he was there it was snowing heavily, Olson said.

Officials said they could not release names until at least one of the victims was identified by means of dental records.

A person who was identified by state police as the step-father of the owner of the plane was interviewed by KOAT-TV Monday and said his son Randy Rupert flew to Los Alamos daily and worked for the laboratory, but had not shown up for work.

A Randal Rupert is listed as an Edgewood resident and also a lab employee.

David Ploeger, Los Alamos County Airport manager, said he was called by a field investigator of the National Transportation Safety Board Monday morning asking whether a plane had arrived from Edgewood.

Los Alamos Police Capt. Randy Foster, who also pilots his own plane, said this morning he had often seen Randy Rupert, a commuting pilot from Edgewood, coming and going from the airport in Los Alamos.

He said two planes regularly fly into Los Alamos on weekday mornings, each with a pilot and passenger.

A spokesman for Los Alamos National Laboratory said this morning the lab was waiting for investigators to make a definite identification.

Dane Knowlton, who works at LANL, said he last saw Rupert Friday and that he flies a Grumman aircraft.

Olson said state police was able to access the crash site by ATV because it was on a forest trail.

The accident is under investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration Dan Baker, an investigator from the NTSB, was also reported to be en route from Denver Monday to investigate the cause of the crash.

Monitor Managing Editor Carol A. Clark and the Associated Press also contributed to this story.