CLEAR CREEK COUNTY, Colo. -- The three people who died in Monday's single-engine plane crash as Loveland Ski Area have been identified.
The Clear Creek County Sheriff's Office said pilot James Kerker, 43, his wife Amy Kerker, 39, and their son Lucas Kerker, 6, were the victims.
The three were from Raymond, Ohio, and stopped in the Denver area to visit family and were en route to Moab, Utah, for a family vacation.
The crash occurred Monday morning after the family took off in the Piper PA 28-235 from Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport in Jefferson County at 8:10 a.m.
A witness says the plane was clearly flying to low and it was not gaining enough altitude to make it out of the area where it was flying.
The crash happened near the Third Valley lot of the ski area, in a heavily wooded area under a ski lift at the Loveland Valley beginner area.
The crash ignited a small fire in which smoke could be seen by drivers along Interstate 70.
According to the Columbus Dispatch, Lucas Kerker was born with Ataxia-telangiectasia, a rare genetic disease that causes progressive loss of muscle control, immune-system problems and a high rate of cancer.
So James and Amy took frequent trips and vacations with their son to make his life as full as possible because he was expected to need a wheelchair by age 10 and not live past 18.
“It was something that they could do as a family,” said Leslie Lefeld, Amy Kerker's sister. “They wanted to make sure he got his life experiences in. He was too young to understand, and didn’t let it stop him. He would try anything. He was just full of life, just a happy kid.”
James Kerker was a former U.S. Air Force pilot and Amy Kerker was an advanced nurse practitioner in pediatric surgery at Nationwide Children's Hospital.