Single-engine Cessna crashes south of Rabbit Ears Pass

Lisa Schlichtman

— A single-engine airplane crashed at just after 11 a.m. Sunday south of the summit of Rabbit Ears Pass, according to Routt County Search and Rescue president and incident commander Chad Bowdre.

The Routt County Sheriff’s Office identified the pilot as Mark Darling, of Eaton. He was the only person on board the plane, and according to Bowdre, Darling was in fair condition after being transported by helicopter to Denver Health Center.

Darling is a former Steamboat Springs resident and his ex-wife still lives in the Steamboat area.

The Cessna 172F high-wing airplane crashed on the top of Green Creek between Sarvis Creek and Harrison Creek, two drainages south of Rabbit Ears Pass. Darling was able to use his cellphone to report the crash, and other planes in the area also picked up signals from the Cessna’s emergency locator transmitter, Bowdre said.

Eight members of Routt County Search and Rescue rode snowmobiles into the remote crash site to rescue Darling, who was able to get himself out of the airplane wreckage and start a fire to keep warm before help arrived.

Both Grand County and Routt County Search and Rescues and Sheriff’s Offices responded to the report of the downed plane, and a command center was established in the Muddy Pass parking lot off of U.S. Highway 40.

At 3:20 p.m., Darling was located and assessed for transport, Bowdre said. A helicopter from Classic Air Medical also flew to the scene to assist.

Darling had taken off from Baggs, Wyoming, and was headed to the Front Range via Steamboat Springs when he crashed. According to Bowdre, the pilot houses his plane in Greeley.

The cause of the plane crash is under investigation.

To reach Lisa Schlichtman, call 970-871-4221, email or follow her on Twitter @LSchlichtman

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