Witnesses describe ‘horrific’ Arvada plane crash that hospitalized four people

A photo shows a plane crashed in front of an Arvada home. The truck in the driveway looks to have sustained damage. Firefighters were putting out a fire.
Arvada Police Department
An early photo shared by law enforcement shows the plane in the front lawn of a modest brick home, which looked to be otherwise spared. Firefighters were hosing down the wreckage.

Updated at 11:12 a.m. on Monday, June 10, 2024.

At least one person injured in the crash has died, authorities confirmed Monday. Investigators have yet to release any identifying information about the deceased or the three other people who were hurt.

Four people, including two juveniles, are in the hospital after a small plane crashed in a residential neighborhood in Arvada. 

The single-engine plane came down near the intersection of Oberon Road and Carr Street, crashing along Oberon Road and slamming into the front yard of a home on Oberon around 9:30 a.m. on Friday.

The plane, a Beechcraft 35 Bonanza, had recently taken off from Centennial Airport. 

Erick Garcia, 27, was driving to Walmart with his two-year-old son and saw the crash. The Arvada resident said he first noticed the plane hanging silently in the air, its engine off.

“I pointed it out thinking it was … just low flying, trying to show off or something,” he said. “It just ended up being something completely different.”

The plane then turned west, its engine still not running and the plane wobbling, he said. The pilot seemed to be looking for an open place to land along Oberon, which borders a large grassy embankment where the railway runs, Garcia said.

The plane lost altitude and crashed onto the road, sliding half a block and bursting into flames once it hit the ground, Garcia said. It stopped outside a home at the intersection of Oberon Road and Brentwood Street. Garcia saw two people ejected from the aircraft, and several witnesses on the scene immediately began helping.

“As soon as it hit the ground, it flamed up, it went into pieces,” Garcia said. “ … As soon as I arrived to the scene, I seen the bodies on the floor, unfortunately.” 

The witnesses appeared to be trying to move two unconscious people away from the flames.

Garcia didn’t see where the other two injured people ended up, and couldn’t say whether they were in the plane or if they perhaps were bystanders hurt by its impact. Garcia quickly called 911.

Andrew Kenney/CPR News
Erick Garcia, who does electrical work, was with his 2-year-old son when they witnessed a small plane crash in Arvada, on June 7, 2024.

Radio calls captured the minutes before the crash

Minutes before the crash, an air traffic control tower for the Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport received a call from the pilot who wanted to make an emergency landing because of an oil pressure warning light, according to radio traffic recordings from LiveATC.net. The pilot identified the aircraft as a Bonanza.

“I’ve got an oil light on — losing pressure. Can I get on the ground, please, sir?” the pilot asked, adding that four people were aboard and the plane had 80 gallons of fuel.

Less than two minutes later, the pilot called back with an even more urgent message: “I’m losing power quickly. I might have to put it down somewhere.”

“I don’t know what to do. I’m going to put it down,” the pilot told the tower. “I’m trying to find a field or a park. I’ve got something in sight. I don’t know where I am.”

That was just before 9:30 a.m. when the crash was first reported. FlightAware records for a plane with matching details, including its model and flight path, showed that it had departed Centennial only 14 minutes earlier. The same plane had made several flights over the last two weeks. The plane appears to have been manufactured in 1969.

Investigators are combing over the scene

An early photo shared by law enforcement shows wreckage on the front lawn of a modestly sized brick home, which looked undamaged otherwise. Firefighters were pictured hosing down the remains of the plane. A pickup truck parked in the home’s driveway appeared to have been damaged.

The weather in the area was mostly sunny Friday morning. The National Weather Service said wind speeds in Arvada were between 11 and 15 mph, though midmorning gusts were expected to reach as high as 24 mph.

Despite several blocks of the area being roped off by police, dozens of people gathered along the railroad embankment to get a glimpse of the scene.

Ray Powell said he lives nearby and walked over to the site of the crash. 

“A little small single-engine plane it looked like,” he said. “There's nothing left of it.”

Powell said he works ground crew operations for United Airlines. He added that he saw knee-high flames burning when he arrived with what appeared to be two adults and two teenagers injured.

Andrew Kenney/CPR News
The scene of a small plane crash near the intersection of Oberon Road and Carr Street in Arvada, Colo. on June 7, 2024. Four people, including two juveniles, were transported to local hospitals.

Daryl Hageman said he saw gouges in the pavement indicating that the plane first touched down somewhere east of the crash site — perhaps 300 yards, he estimated — before stopping in the front yard of the home.

“It's definitely shocking. It made me want to just kind of go home and stop what I was doing,” Garcia said, holding his son a couple of hours after the crash. “It’s quite horrific,” he added.

Emergency responders including the Arvada Police Department, the Arvada Fire Department and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office were on hand. A hazardous materials team came to the scene to look for hazards such as a fuel leak. A line of police recruits appeared to sweep the area for wreckage.

The National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the crash.

Editor's note: This is a developing story and will be updated.