Pilot killed in El Paso County plane crash identified as Dr. John O’Dell

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EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. — One person died Wednesday, after the small plane they were piloting crashed near Meadow Lake Airport in Falcon, according to the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office (EPCSO).

Deputies say the pilot was identified as 46-year-old John O’Dell.

O’Dell dedicated over a decade as a doctor for Centura Health and Penrose-St. Francis Health Services, many who worked with him are saddened and shocked by this tragedy, according to a spokesperson from Penrose-St. Francis Health Services.

Dr. Brian Erling, CEO of Centura-Penrose-St. Francis Health Services released the following statement Friday evening:

Dr. John Odell was a dedicated and loyal member of our Centura Health and Penrose-St. Francis Health Services communities for 15 years and this loss is deeply felt by every caregiver in our hospitals. Dr. Odell forged genuine and meaningful relationships and connections with so many of his colleagues and patients throughout his career, as he devotedly cared for our communities and neighbors. Our deepest and most heartfelt condolences go out to his family, friends, and loved ones, and all our caregivers who are grieving this painful loss.

Dr. Brian Erling

The crash happened just after 11:30 a.m. about a mile south-southeast of the airport, on McCandlish Road.

A witness who called 911 said the aircraft appeared to be attempting to land when it flipped over and came to rest upside down.

“I asked some onlookers if they saw anyone eject from the plane. Then suddenly, the fuel ignited and blew up, and I knew I needed to stand back,” Alita Gotwald, who witnessed the crash, said.

The plane caught fire after crashing, according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The Falcon Fire Department responded to the scene and was able to extinguish the fire.

“I was devastated, to say the least. I have never seen a plane flying so close over my head; it was pretty wild,” Gotwald said.

The FAA said O’Dell was the only person aboard the plane, a single-engine Cessna T210.

The FAA is the investigating agency and will address any future inquires for this crash.

“I’m just sorry I couldn’t do anything here to help,” Gotwald said.

Part of McCandlish Road south of Falcon Highway was closed for several hours on Wednesday as investigators cleaned up the wreckage and taped off the area where the plane crashed. An EPCSO spokesperson said the National Transportation Safety Board is expected to clean up the rest of the plane Thursday morning.

“My heart goes out to the family,” Gotwald said. “That was such a devastating witness of death, right before me.”

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