- The Washington Times - Monday, November 29, 2004

MONTROSE, Colo. (AP) — A charter plane carrying NBC Sports Chairman Dick Ebersol crashed and burst into flames during takeoff yesterday, killing at least two persons and seriously injuring Mr. Ebersol and one of his sons. Rescue crews were searching for another son.

Mr. Ebersol, 57, and son Charles survived the crash at the Montrose Regional Airport outside this southwestern Colorado town, NBC said through its Denver affiliate KUSA-TV.

The station said crews searched for Edward “Teddy” Ebersol, 14, by helicopter and on the ground. NBC said his seat was missing from the wreckage.

Eyewitness Chuck Distel told KUSA that one of the wings and the cockpit was ripped off the plane after it skidded sideways.

“There were two people outside the airplane when we pulled up. Both of them pretty much were in shock,” he said.

Montrose County sheriff’s officials said two persons were dead. The network said the victims were the pilot and co-pilot. No identities were released on the third survivor, but KUSA said Mr. Ebersol’s wife, actress Susan St. James, was not on the plane.

Linda McCool, a nursing supervisor at Montrose Memorial Hospital, said three men were brought to the hospital after the crash and had all been transferred to other hospitals by yesterday afternoon.

Dan Prinster, vice president of St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction, said two persons were moved there from Montrose Memorial. Neither Miss McCool nor Mr. Prinster would release any other information on the survivors.

The crash occurred in an area covered with small brush and cedar trees, sheriff’s communications supervisor David Learned said. A large drainage ditch also is at the site.

A storm hit much of the state over the weekend and dumped more than 3 feet of snow in the area, but it was not known if weather was a factor in the crash. Montrose is less than an hour from the Telluride Ski Area, which is popular with celebrities.

The plane was on its way to South Bend, Ind. Investigators from the FAA and National Safety Transportation Board were en route to the airport, 185 miles southwest of Denver.

Mr. Ebersol has a long history at NBC. He became director of late-night programming at NBC in 1974 and replaced Lorne Michaels for a rocky tenure as executive producer of “Saturday Night Live” in the early 1980s. He became president of NBC Sports in 1989 and recently signed a contract that keeps him at the network through 2012.

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