Doug Sheffer Killed In Colorado Helicopter Crash

Doug Sheffer — a 1968 Staples graduate, and the middle child of Westport civic leaders Ralph and Betty Sheffer — was killed this morning in a Colorado helicopter crash.

Sheffer spent many years in the state, owning and operating a helicopter service.

Here is the story from the Grand Junction Free Press:

Three people, including longtime local helicopter pilot Doug Sheffer, were killed Monday morning when a helicopter that was being used to inspect power lines in the area apparently snagged a line and crashed, according to the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office.

Sheffer was the longtime owner and chief pilot for DBS Helicopters based out of the Rifle-Garfield County Airport.

“I’ve known Doug for a lot of years since I become sheriff,” Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario said.

Doug Sheffer

Doug Sheffer

“He was certainly a top-notch pilot and good friend, and was instrumental in a lot of search and rescue efforts,” Vallario said of Sheffer’s work with Garfield County Search and Rescue.

“Because of Doug we were able to rescue many people that we might not otherwise have been able to,” Vallario said.

Sheffer was also a founding parent at the private Waldorf School on Roaring Fork, which started in Aspen and is now located near Carbondale. His daughter graduated from the school in 2002, said Karla Comey, faculty administrator at the Waldorf School, who was in touch with family members after the accident.

“He has been instrumental in supporting our school from the beginning,” Comey said. “We dearly love him, and send him on his way with much love and light for his transition.”

The crash happened at 11:18 a.m., and emergency officials were on the scene within five minutes, Sheriff’s spokesman Walt Stowe said.

The helicopter was part of a fleet that began monitoring power lines within the Holy Cross service area on Monday. All three of the people killed were aboard the helicopter when it crashed.

Officials have not identified the other two crash victims.

“There were citizens on site when the crash happened,” Stowe said, indicating that one of the people on the scene knew the three people aboard.

Dry Hollow Road (County Road 331) was closed for several hours on either side of the crash site, but was reopened to traffic at about 3:30 p.m.

Numerous emergency vehicles and personnel from multiple agencies, including the Sheriff’s Office and Colorado River Fire Rescue, will remain in the vicinity helping to maintain security overnight.

National Transportation Safety Board officials were expected to arrive Tuesday to conduct their investigation, Vallario said.

The crash also caused power outages in the area, which workers from both Holy Cross and Xcel Energy were working to restore, he said.

The power line monitoring is part of an ongoing effort that started Monday and was to continue through Wednesday to gauge the health of the Holy Cross grid and reduce outages, according to a press release sent out last week by Holy Cross Energy and DBS Helicopters of Rifle.

DBS was working with HotShot Infrared Inspections of Fort Collins to survey 250 miles of transmission lines from the air, and using infrared photography to identify potential trouble spots on power lines and at substation facilities.

Sheffer and Holy Cross officials explained the power line inspection project in a news release sent out last week, so that the public would be aware of the operation.

Helicopters were to be flying about 30 feet above the transmission poles, which are approximately 50 feet tall, he said.

The helicopters were to be traveling anywhere from 25 to 40 miles per hour.

“Unless a problem area is located, a person on the ground will just see and hear a low-flying helicopter passing by, according to the news release.

If a problem is encountered, the helicopter would circle back and hover for a few minutes to record the area with video, still shots and a GPS coordinate.

“It will then proceed along the line and away from that neighborhood,” according to the news release.

“Believe me, those two to three minutes will seem more like 10 minutes,” Sheffer commented in the release. “Our goal is to linger as little as possible at any one point during these three days.”

27 responses to “Doug Sheffer Killed In Colorado Helicopter Crash

  1. Our deepest sympathies to Ann and Bill and all the family. What a tragedy. Life is so precious. Rozanne Gates and Suzanne Sheridan.

  2. So so sorry. I met him a few times. He died living the life. Stop! All of us and listen. I want to die fast and doing what I love. God Bless you Doug!

  3. My heart goes out to Ann, Bill and all of Doug’s other loved ones. I feel your loss and know that you are surrounded with loving support.

  4. Kim Plaut Sullivan

    Sincerest Sympathies to all the Sheffers from the Plauts in Westport.

  5. so sad please advise of family arrangements

    Sent from my iPad


  6. I have known Doug for most of our lives. This is a crushing loss. One thing the article does not mention is that Doug was an outstanding sailor and was instrumental in getting Longshore Sailing School off the ground back in 1975. He its first General Manager, and he was instrumental in its success. This is a very sad day. Our hearts go out to his sister Ann, his wife Barbi, and the whole family.

  7. Deepest sympathies

  8. I am so sad to read about the loss of your brother, Ann and brother-in-law, Bill. What an adventurer he was and doing such good work in such a beautiful part of the world. I wish you great strength in getting through this very difficult time.

  9. Mark J. Marcus

    Dear Ann:

    Jan and I want to express our deepest sympathy to you and Bill on the tragic loss of your brother Doug.

    Mark J. Marcus

  10. Dale Eyerly Colson

    My very deepest sympathy to Ann and all the extended Sheffer family. I’ll be keeping you all in my thoughts, my heart and my prayers.

  11. Courtney Shea

    Doug was an amazing athlete –Staples wrestler, skier, sailor, played a mean game of touch football, and was a good friend to all of our family. Lively warm-hearted friend, great SSTS guy, his energy and intensity brought so much fun to my Westport years. My heart aches for his wife and daughter, brother and sister.

  12. Peter Gambaccini

    An exceptional live-life-to-the-fullest man. A multi-part interview with him about the Longshore Sailing School can be found online. Here’s the first part

  13. Maxine Bleiweis

    Ann, Bill, Jonathan, Susan and your families–On behalf of the Westport Library Board and staff please accept our heartfelt sympathy.

  14. I am so sad hearing this news. Flooded with memories and stories from my sister about what a special young boy Doug was…My heart and love goes out to Ann, Jon and the whole family.

  15. A tragedy for sure. Doug was a good friend, sailing mentor and a fellow aviator. If there is any solice in this, it is that Doug left this world doing what he so dearly loved. As a pilot with over 6000 hour flying jets off aircraft carriers, I have to say that every aviator relishes life, but every one of us, given the choice would not trade our time at the helm of an aircraft even when the risks are recognized. Doug, I can only wish you fair winds and a following sea. I will miss you my friend.

  16. I felt like a hole opened under me when I heard this – like I did when I saw one of the WTC towers fall on TV when we were out of the country. Doug and I were friends from elementary school days: Burr Farms School, now also gone, and though I saw him less over the years due to distance, he was always the suave, intelligent, strong, thoughtful person he was as a kid, only he got to be a lot cooler as a helicopter pilot. A loss too early and too sudden for a fine family who have given so much to Westport.

  17. Jill Schnake-Roeder

    My sympathies to the Sheffer family, from the heart. So, so sorry to hear this news.

  18. Doug was my best friend in high school and we went through elementary school, junior high and Staples together — so many adventures and passages. Despite the unfairness and sadness of losing him, I know Doug lived life to the fullest including raising a family and giving back as much as he received. Doug was a terrific athlete and we spent many summers on the Sound sailing and water skiing and talking about what we would be doing when we grew up. Doug managed to fulfill his dreams — something that only a few of us achieve with the panache Doug brought to everything he did. My heart goes out to Barbi, Brooke, Ann, Jonathan and all of us who had the good fortune to know him. I will miss him terribly.

  19. My sympathies to Ann, brother Jonathan, and all of the family. I didn’t know Doug, but knowing Ann for many years, I can understand the glowing comments from his friends.

  20. Doug was one of the nicest men I’ve ever known … he should have had nothing but good karma going for him. I’m very sad.

  21. Shocked and saddened to learn the news. I have fond memories of Doug. He was often in our kitchen after school at Staples (he loved my mom’s brownies), and I spent many summers tagging along with him and my brother, Steve, while they were water skiing. He was a warm and friendly guy, full of charm, and he had the most amazing smile. My deepest sympathy to the Sheffer family.


    My heart just aches for the family of this extraordinary young man.
    I am so sorry for your tragic loss.

  23. We send love and sympathy for this terrible loss. Doug taught our kids how to sail. Ralph was always so proud of him and for good reason. May he rest in peace.
    Alberta Cifolelli and Charles Lamb

  24. Robin Bieley Moore

    This makes me so sad. I remember Doug from Burr Farms and was friends with him all the way through Staples. He was always fun, always smiling, and a great guy. My sincere condolences to his family.

  25. Ann and family, so sorry for your loss.

  26. Doug was a sailing and skiing companion of mine. He loves seeing every movie that was up for the oscars each year. He was bigger than life, his hiking both the pacific ans well as the Appalachian trails.
    The world is a better place because he was part of it and we are all fortunate people for having him touch our lives.

  27. I met Doug less than a week before the fatal crash. I am a journalist and was on assignment to write about Beavercreek’s Osprey Hotel’s “White Glove package.” Doug flew myself and a photographer from Vail/Eagle Airport to Beavercreek. He was joyous about his job and life, I remember him telling me about a few of his search and rescue missions and how he had a 100-% success rate. My heart goes out to his family. What a terrible tragedy and loss. I am so very sorry.