Friends remember veteran pilot killed in Thanksgiving plane crash

Local News

TELLURIDE, Colo. (KDVR) — Authorities have identified the two people killed in a plane crash near Telluride earlier this week.

According to the San Miguel County Sheriff’s Office, the pilot was 48-year-old Bryan Lee Kill of Huachuca City, Arizona and more recently of Telluride.

The passenger was identified as 37-year-old Mana Mohtasham of Southern California.

FOX31 is learning more about these two victims from close friends and loved ones.

Everett West is fighting to come to terms with losing one of his closest friends and fellow marine Bryan Kill. 

“For 48-years-old, the man lived five lifetimes worth of stuff,” West said, adding “He was a pleasure to know. It’s almost surreal, just unfathomable really.”

West tells FOX31 Kill became a combat pilot for the Marines, retired and then became a first officer for American Airlines’ Envoy Air.

“I guess that’s what made this whole thing even harder, he was an accomplished pilot,” West said, adding “He wasn’t just a weekend warrior when it came to flying an aircraft, he knew what he was doing.”

Kill stood out as a leader and role model to many expressing their condolences on social media.

“He left the Marines the same time I did, went off to college, came back and then went through the officer ranks,” West said.

Kill’s dedication as a friend earned him the title of Uncle Bryan in West’s family.

“The guy was fantastic with children, children loved him as much as adults did,” West said. “He just had one of those magnetic personalities that just drew people to him. He’s going to be missed.”

Photo courtesy of Everett West

Friends tell FOX31 they especially admired the 48-year-old’s love for adventure.

“The guy was an animal— air, land and sea,” West said. “He could have been a Navy SEAL instead of a Marine. He was comfortable in every element. He had his own boat that he actually soloed from the Annapolis harbor all the way down the coast, across the Panama Canal and up the West Coast of the United States.”

Photo courtesy of Everett West

FOX31 spoke with Home Khanum who tells us she was extremely close friends with Mohtasham and her family.

She shared the following statement:

“Mana was truly a special young woman. She was honest, witty, caring, and lived her life to the fullest extent. She had an MBA degree and was working as project manager in San Diego. She loved sports and nature and traveled solo to many parts of the world including the Himalayas. Her energy and kind spirit will be sorely missed by her friends and family.”

The crash occurred about 1:30 p.m. Thursday as the plane was approaching Telluride Regional Airport.

The single-engine aircraft lost contact with the airport and several witnesses reported seeing the aircraft go down.

At approximately 2:30 p.m. Thursday, the crash site was located. Kill and Mohtasham were found deceased.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating and tells FOX31 the board suspects a preliminary report may be available in about 10 days. 

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