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Sheriff says 3 dead in helicopter crash in Colorado; witnesses say aircraft hit power line

DENVER - Authorities were investigating after a helicopter crashed in western Colorado on Monday, killing all three people aboard.

Witnesses who saw the crash believe the helicopter was carrying a crew inspecting power lines and that the aircraft snagged a line, Garfield County sheriff's Deputy Ward Stowe said. The crash happened at 11:18 a.m. near Silt, a small town about 150 miles west of Denver.

Doug Sheffer, the owner and chief pilot for DBS Helicopters, based in nearby Rifle, was among those killed, Sheriff Lou Vallario told the Glenwood Springs Post Independent. The names of the other two on board have not been released.

"I've known Doug for a lot of years, since I first became sheriff," Vallario said. "He was certainly a top-notch pilot and good friend."

Vallario told the newspaper that Sheffer often worked with the sheriff's office and other agencies in a variety of operations, including searches for people lost in the rugged mountains of central Colorado.

"Because of Doug, we were able to rescue many people that we might not otherwise have been able to," he said. "He is definitely going to be missed."

According to preliminary information, the helicopter was being used by a power company for survey work and struck power lines before the crash, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Allen Kenitzer said.

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash, which happened in steep, hilly, snow-covered terrain. The Post Independent reported the power line at the site spans a broad, deep ravine where the road winds through a small canyon.

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