Pilot changed his mind before engine failure in Steamboat Springs crash, report shows

Shows a Steamboat Springs firetruck dousing a fire with smoke rising after a plane crash in a mobile home park.
Courtesy photo.
Steamboat Springs Fire Department personnel at the scene of a plane crash on Monday, June 17, 2024.

The pilot of a plane that crashed in Steamboat Springs in June reported the plane's engine had overheated, a new preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board shows.

The plane was on its from Loveland to Ogden, Utah but crashed in a mobile home park, according to the three-page Aviation Investigation Preliminary Report released this week.

Two people on the plane, Pilot Dan Dunn, 67, and passenger Jessica Melton, 42, were killed. The plane caught fire upon impact.

The crash, on June 17 at about 4:30 p.m., was the third small plane crash in Colorado in June.

The private plane, a twin-propeller Cessna 421 C, was near Yampa, a small town in Routt County when the pilot reported an issue with the temperature in the cylinder. He asked air traffic control to divert, first to Steamboat Springs, according to the report. Dunn then changed his mind for unknown reasons and asked to go to a regional airport near Fort Collins. He then turned back and requested clearance to land at Steamboat. On the way there, the pilot reported the shutdown of the plane’s left engine.

Witnesses saw the plane go into a “flat, spiraling” descent and crash in a mobile home park, in a horizontal position before catching on fire. Two mobile homes also caught fire, according to previous police reports, which show that everyone in the park was accounted for. 

The remaining parts of the plane are under investigation, according to the report. It could be months before regulators make a final determination on the cause of the crash.