30th anniversary of deadly Continental Airlines crash at Stapleton airport

DENVER -- Wednesday marked 30 years since rescue crews and investigators were picking through the wreckage of a Continental Airlines flight that had crashed just after takeoff from Stapleton International Airport in Denver.

As a blizzard was pounding the Front Range on Nov. 15, 1987, most flights were canceled, but Continental flight 1713 was heading to Boise, Idaho, with 82 people on board. They never made it.

The crash killed both pilots, one flight attendant and 25 passengers.

Betta Ferenndelli was the customer service agent for that flight. One of her memories that day was a family of three -- a dad and his two young daughters -- on standby who got the last three seats on the plane.

"But then at that point another ticketed passenger came by and as a result there were only two seats left on the plane," Ferenndelli said. "The flight left and he was so angry at me because he wanted to get on that flight."

The final NTSB report blamed the crash on pilot error. The captain and first officer never told the tower that they were heading out to get deiced.

RELATED: NTSB report on Continental Flight 1713 

The confusion led them to sit on the runway for about 30 minutes, which was enough time for the deicing chemicals to dissolve, allowing more heavy snow and ice to build on the wings.

A few seconds later, the plane tried to lift but rotated severely, the left wing hitting the ground, crushing many of the victims in the midsection of the jet.

Soon after Ferenndelli and other employees rushed to the scene on a bus to help.

"They were asking people, other Continental agents to go out on a bus and help the walking wounded because there were people who were out walking. So we got them to the bus," she said.

The NTSB also blamed pilot inexperience for the crash. At the control was a 26-year-old first officer who had been fired from his last job because he failed a flight test three different times.

Because of the crash, tighter regulations on deicing were initiated as well as more intense background checks on pilots.