Reports: Pilot was warned of gusty winds before crash
John Verhalen (Source: Facebook)
Chloe & Sarah Colleen Verhalen (Source: Facebook)
The N-Number on the plane that crashed is 3484X. The plane was a Mooney M20E based on a search on the FAA website.
Officials say they warned a pilot against taking off from a northern New Mexico ski resort on Sunday because of winds gusting to 55 miles per hour.
KQRE reports that an airport attendant warned him the winds were much too strong for his single engine airplane and told him not to take off.
Four family members with ties to East Texas were killed in the crash that followed.
New Mexico State Police have identified them as 33-year-old Pilot John Verhalen III of Scottsville, Texas, his girlfriend 26-year-old Jennifer Woodward, his sister 41-year-old Sarah Verhalen and her 13-year-old daughter Chloe Jameson. All died in the crash near Angel Fire, New Mexico on Sunday afternoon. Angel Fire is located 150 miles northeast of Albuquerque.
"It's hard to take when you lose your whole family. Philip (John's father) had two children and a granddaughter and they were all in that plane so it's, I don't know how you take that," says family member Charles Reeves.
The plane went down as it was taking off at 1:24 p.m. Mountain Time on Sunday. The plane's destination wasn't immediately known. Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Lynn Lunsford tells KSLA News 12 investigators will determine whether the strong and gusting winds played a role in the accident.
The National Transportation Safety Board is leading the investigation.
The N-Number on the plane that crashed is 3484X. The plane was a Mooney M20E based on a search on the FAA website. You can view the registry here. It says the plane was registered to Verhalen Flyers LLC in Scottsville, Texas.
St. Joseph's Church in Marshall, Texas held a prayer vigil Monday night. "I have to pray that they're waiting for Chloe, Sarah and John and his girl friend in heaven" Reeves says.