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Pilot Survives Crash In Remote Part Of Rabbit Ears Pass

ROUTT COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) - A pilot is lucky to be alive after crashing the plane he was flying in a remote part of a high country forest.

The crash happened south of Highway 40 on the east side of Rabbit Ears Pass Sunday morning.

According to Grand County Director of Emergency Management Ray Jennings, the pilot, identified as Mark Darling from Eaton, contacted a family member by phone after the plane crashed and said he was badly injured.

(credit: CBS)

More than 20 search and rescue personnel on 18 snowmobiles entered the Routt Forest.

"When we went in we were able to get a large part of the team to the end of the road, and two of our expert riders went from there to the site of the crash," Darrel Livingston with Grand County Search and Rescue said. "It did take them a while to find the place."

Darling complained of several injuries but none appeared to be life threatening. He was the only person on board the plane.

"They did check him out at that point and he was in great shape; a little cold. They were able to put him on a snowmobile and bring him to the end of the road," Livingston said.

Rabbit Ears Plane Crash (todd)
The scene on Rabbit Ears Pass Sunday afternoon (credit: Jeff Todd)

By the time the pilot was brought back to the search and rescue command center he was in pain and very cold. He had built a fire to stay warm waiting for rescue.

"We didn't really have any idea of the condition he was in until they got there, but just assuming it's a plane crash we always expect the worst," Livingston said.

Darling was then put back in the air again and transported by helicopter to a hospital in the Front Range.

Darling reportedly told some of the first responders that he had survived a previous crash.

Rescuers told CBS4 the crash was an area they call the Triangle where there have been several crashes over the past few years. The most recent was in August in which the pilot and a passenger were both killed.

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