1 fatality confirmed following plane crash on prison property in Fremont County

Published: Feb. 2, 2020 at 4:20 PM MST
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One person was killed after a small plane crashed onto state prison property Sunday afternoon.

Authorities say two others on the plane were injured.

The Piper PA-28 had just taken off when it went down on Colorado Department of Corrections land between Penrose and Canon City around 2 p.m. Sunday. The National Transportation Safety Board says it was an instructional flight, and a student pilot, instructor and a passenger were the ones on board.

Officials initially told 11 News all on board were taken to the hospital. NTSB confirmed the fatality Monday.

The deceased has been identified as 39-year-old David Merritt.

Chopper video from sister station KCNC shows the nose of the plane took the brunt of the damage; a wing is also broken off. The aircraft crashed near Highway 50.

Department of Corrections is the lead investigating agency. Department spokesperson Annie Skinner sent us the following statement:

At approximately 1:58 p.m., an emergency call came in about a possible small plane crash on Department of Corrections property in Canon City. At this time the scene has been secured by the Colorado Department of Corrections with assistance from the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has been notified and is on their way to the scene. At this time, we do not have any confirmation about who was on board the plane nor the extent of injuries. Media will not be able to access the scene as it is on DOC property. No additional information will be available today. Updates will be provided as appropriate.

A preliminary report is expected in two weeks. A full investigation could take up to two years.

At this time, it's unknown if the crash was pilot error or plane malfunction.