Pilot injured in Castle Rock crash identified

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CASTLE ROCK, Colo. — The woman injured when her plane went down in the heavy fog above Castle Rock this week has been identified as Helena Cernik.

It appears, from several mentions of her name online, that the 32-year-old Cernik is an experienced pilot and certified flight instructor in Seattle. It appears she also spoke in March about a Transatlantic flight she had completed from Seattle to Edinburgh, Scotland, in a plane similar to the one-engine vessel that crashed in Castle Rock on Monday.

She also appears to operate a blog about her aviation exploits called HelensFlyingAdventures.com.

Though Cernik was identified as the pilot in the crash on Wednesday, there was no information made available by authorities about her condition. She was reportedly conscious when emergency personnel arrived at the scene of the crash.

Cernik was piloting a small plane that hit a power line on Monday night and crashed into a ravine in Castle Rock’s Sapphire Pointe neighborhood. A statement from the town of Castle Rock indicated fog in the area caused the crash at about 7 p.m.

“There was just one person inside the single-engine plane, which the injured pilot was able to confirm,” Castle Rock spokeswoman Caroline Kipp said. “She was then transported to the hospital.”

Cernik was conscious after the crash and she reportedly told rescuers she did not see the power lines because of fog. She was approaching Centennial Airport at the time. Bystander Jennifer Frieling was one of the first to find the crash victim.

“I heard a low flying airplane engine, I heard a boom, I jumped up and flung open the curtains and I saw some sparks like a bottle rocket or something,” Frieling said. “The plane was down in the gully and she (the victim) was up on this higher ground, so I don’t know if she was ejected or if she crawled out. But when I found her she was not moving, so my first guess would be that she was ejected.”

Meanwhile, Castle Rock Fire Cheif Art Morales said Cernik was conscious when his emergency personnel arrived on scene, and credited Good Samaritans for aiding in the woman’s rescue.

“Neighbors actually had found her and directed our personnel to where she was,” Morales said.

Officials say the female pilot reported an icing problem to tower personnel at Centennial Airport. The crash happened near some homes but the plane ended up in a ravine in open space.



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