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Aspen Plane Crash: Names of Victims Released

Aired March 30, 2001 - 3:07 p.m. ET


JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Bobbie, we want to bring our viewers up to date on the latest developments that -- in the investigation into the crash of a charter jet out in Aspen, Colorado last night. Speaking now in Burbank, California is the president of a company called Avjet, which ran the charter service. Mark Foulkrod is speaking with reporters. Let's listen.

MARC FOULKROD, PRESIDENT, AVJET CORP.: ... in the process of notifying family members of all the passengers and crew, of the names of their family members on the passenger manifest for the aircraft. The aircraft was boarded and departed LAX in route to Aspen. The notification process continued throughout the night and was only completed moments ago.

Since we believe all family members have now been notified, we are providing you a copy of the passenger manifest of 15 passengers and three crew members. The process of positive identification of the passengers on board the aircraft is in process in Aspen, Colorado.

The aircraft was operated by a highly experienced crew. And as the primary crew assigned to the aircraft, had flown multiple trips to and from Aspen during the month of March.

Our deepest and most heartfelt concerns continue to go out to all the families of the passengers and crew. Avjet is assisting family members in every possible way as outlined in our family assistant plan. Family members may contact Avjet at 800-342-8538.

At this time, we will answer a few questions.

QUESTION: Did that plane have a ground proximity warning system or a radar alternator?

FOULKROD: Ma'am, I will refrain from technical questions because the NTSB is investigating. They will provide all that for you.

QUESTION: You have no speculation as to what may have gone wrong at this point?

FOULKROD: I do not, sir.

QUESTION: Can you talk about the difficulty of making that approach in that particular airport because of the terrain?

FOULKROD: Yes, sir. Aspen is known as a very difficult airport.

QUESTION: In which way? Can you give us a...

FOULKROD: It is surrounded by mountains, very high mountains.

QUESTION: Marc, when you say that the crew was very experienced and had flown in there multiple times, you're saying that they knew this area well, they knew the airport well, they knew how tricky this approach was?

FOULKROD: Yes, sir. We're going to provide you some data on the crew. And as well the flight crew flew in there as late as March 7th through the 11th on multiple trips for the owner and had also had weather on one occasion had gone to Rifle.

QUESTION: How much of a factor was the weather?

FOULKROD: I don't know, sir. It's unknown at this time.

QUESTION: Marc, who were the other 13 passengers? We know who two of the passengers were. Who were the other 13? Were they from Los Angeles or from the southern California area?

FOULKROD: Yes, sir. We believe some of them were, and we have a list that we will provide you. The gentleman here will give you that.

QUESTION: Were they skiers, people on a ski trip?

FOULKROD: I don't know, sir. We have got the list from their people and provided that. I can't tell you what their, you know, desire was when they got to Aspen.


QUESTION: How many people knew each other? Were they in like a group? Were they going there for any event that you know of?

FOULKROD: I don't know that either, ma'am. There were family members on the flight together.

QUESTION: Could you tell us about this aircraft and its safety record?

FOULKROD: The Gulfstream III is one of the safest corporate aircraft out there.

QUESTION: As a rule, Marc, do they normally charter these things in a group?

FOULKROD: It's very common for a group of people to take an airplane to Aspen, yes.

QUESTION: Is that what happened here?

FOULKROD: It is a group of people that chartered the aircraft. QUESTION: They were all together in an organized group? They didn't (UNINTELLIGIBLE) individually and happen to be in the same plane?

FOULKROD: No, ma'am.

QUESTION: Was it a ski group, one big party?

FOULKROD: We don't know, sir.

QUESTION: How experienced are your pilots in flying into other mountainous areas as well as flying into Aspen?

FOULKROD: We will provide you with the biography of the crew. The captain had over 10,000 hours and had recent simulated training and was very familiar with the airport.

QUESTION: ... the relationship between Avjet and Synergy and Airborne Chartering?

FOULKROD: Airborne Charter owns the aircraft and it's on an operating lease to Avjet.

QUESTION: What about Synergy?

FOULKROD: I believe they have an affiliation with Airborne Charter and we have their press release attached that you can view as well.

QUESTION: Why fly some of your staff to Aspen? What's the reason for that, sir?

FOULKROD: That's to assist the NTSB and the FAA in their ongoing investigation.

QUESTION: Any problems with that plane in the past?

FOULKROD: No, sir.

QUESTION: At this time, we'll pass out the press releases and we'll address any other questions in the future. Thank you.

CHEN: All right, you've been hearing here from Marc Foulkrod. He's the president of a company called Avstar. This is a company that operated a charter. The charter jet, of course, crashed at Aspen, Colorado, the airport at Aspen, Colorado last evening. Eighteen people were killed. Mr. Foulkrod saying that now at this point, authorities have finished notifying family members of those who died aboard the plane. There were 15 passengers and three crew members all died in the course of this crash.

Taking a look here at a picture of the Gulfstream III aircraft that was involved in this crash. It was coming into Aspen, which as Marc Foulkrod noted, is a very difficult, a notoriously difficult airport to get into. It is surrounded by mountains. There was some light snow, some weather in the area at the time. But it is well known by charter pilots and pilots that this is a difficult airport to land at. And clearly, this is an airport that caused difficulties last night for the crew on this plane.

CNN's Sherri Sylvester is covering the story from Burbank now, and she joins us.

Sherri, I understand that Mr. Foulkrod has passed out the list of the passengers and crew that were on board this flight.

SHERRI SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Joie, they do have the list. And I can read the names now. They did say that there were some family members on here, and it's very clear by looking at the list. Robert New, Mario Aguilar, Joe Aguilar and Joey Aguilar. So, that was clearly a family. The crew, we had two men and one woman, Catherine Naranjo, Peter Kowalczyk and Bob Frisbie. Again, a very experienced crew. They had flown numerous times in and out of Aspen within the past month. They did say that the Gulfstream jet is one of the safest out there, has a very safe record. It was charter flight, private charter flight leaving here from Burbank.

Again, they did give us a complete list. But at this time we don't have any additional information on those passengers, whether they're from Los Angeles, their ages. That is not available at this time. So we will let you know when we do get that information.

Sherri, obviously, this had come into question, the identities of the people on board because, of course, this is a plane that is owned by a motion picture company, is leased and coming out of the Burbank area. And this is an area that's used a lot in this airport in particular, used a lot by celebrities going in and out obviously going to a place like Aspen where a lot of stars go.

SYLVESTER: This is, of course -- Burbank airport is used. You can hear a plane taking off now. Yes...

CHEN: You're hearing a lot of the audio from Sherri Sylvester out at Burbank airport. Obviously quite noisy there. You just saw a very quick picture as the cockpit voice recorder was taken into NTSB headquarters in Washington. They very quickly moved in an NTSB crew into Aspen to begin this investigation. And they wanted to get that cockpit voice recorder which they found quite quickly, as well as the other so-called black box, a flight data recorder. Both of those were located pretty quickly after this accident. Now the cockpit voice recorder has gone to the NTSB headquarters in Washington so that they can take a further look and get more information from that equipment to see if they can learn anymore about the crash.

Let's go back to Sherri Sylvester.

I think the plane has cleared behind you, Sherri. We should be able to hear you a little bit better. I think we were talking about the possibility of stars, the concern that some sort of celebrity figure might have been on board.

SYLVESTER: Yes. Yeah, this location of Burbank airport is commonly used. In fact, it's used pretty much daily by the major studios here, Warner Bros. and Disney Studios right down the street. They use this airport for their private charters. They shuttle stars around the country. Looking at this passenger list, there are no celebrity names that jump out on this list. And I don't see either any studio executives, big name studio executives on this list. There are family members on this list clearly, people who are related with the same last name. We don't know of this group which ones were going there for pleasure, which ones were going there on business. And we don't have additional information yet as to their ages and whether they were all Los Angeles-based passengers or not at this time. We also do know, as we reported earlier, of the two KTTV staffers that we know here in Los Angeles who were on board and their names are on this list as well.

CHEN: CNN's Sherri Sylvester reporting to us from Burbank airport out in southern California today.

Want to update you as well on another developing story, this one coming to us from the Balkans. And we've been watching here at CNN throughout the day. There have been reports that police have surrounded the home of Slobodan Milosevic, of course, the former embattled Yugoslav president. He had been in seclusion in his home, and there however been a number of reports. In fact, a CNN producer at the scene remarked that there's quite a bit of police activity as well as supporter of Milosevic activity at his home in Yugoslavia.

There had been some question about the possibility of his impending arrest. That is because the United States had set a deadline of tomorrow, March 31st, for his arrest or the possible cut- off of aid to Yugoslavia. And there had been questions about whether the Yugoslav government would comply with making that arrest available.

Now CNN has been told by the Yugoslav ambassador to the United States that the reason Slobodan Milosevic's home has been surrounded is for his own protection in the words of the Yugoslav ambassador. Obviously still a situation that is developing. And CNN is continuing to watch closely.

Later here in the coming hours, we're going to talk with CNN State Department correspondent Andrea Koppel to get the latest developments and put it in perspective for you.

We'll continue our coverage as we need to. Now let's go back to TALKBACK LIVE.




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