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Monday, January 27, 2014

Westport Native Dies in Colorado Helicopter Crash

Doug Sheffer, 63, Westport native, Staples High school graduate, and brother of well known Westport arts advocate Ann Sheffer, died today in a Colorado helicopter crash, according to friends and colleagues.

WestportNow.com Image
Doug Sheffer: pictured at a 2008 Staples class reunion at Compo Beach. Contributed photo

He was among three people confirmed dead in the crash, which apparently occurred when the helicopter snapped a power line and crashed about a mile south of Silt, Colo., authorities said

Sheffer was owner and chief pilot of DBS Helicopters of Rifle, Colo., and was a well-known and well-respected aviator in the region, news reports said. He frequently flew high country rescue missions with Mountain Rescue Aspen (MRA).

The helicopter was part of a fleet that began monitoring power lines in the area, according to a news release last week from the company.

The Garfield County Sheriff’s Office has not released the names of the other two people on board, although spokesman Walter Stowe said that they apparently died at the scene.

“We are shocked to hear the news,” said MRA director Jeff Edelson. “He was a very talented pilot, and we used him on many missions up on high peaks, performing dangerous rescues.

“Doug and the DBS team were a very important resource for us,” Edelson said. “My heart goes out to his friends and family.”

“He was certainly a top-notch pilot and good friend, and was instrumental in a lot of search and rescue efforts,” Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario said. “Because of Doug we were able to rescue many people that we might not otherwise have been able to.”

Today was the first day the company was to take representatives from Holy Cross Energy to survey 250 miles of power lines this week, the Glenwood Springs Post Independent reported.

The poles are reportedly 50 feet tall, the newspaper reported, and the helicopter was expected to fly 30 feet above the lines anywhere up to 40 miles per hour.

The survey, beginning in DeBeque, was expected to go through Wednesday.

Sheffer was a 1968 graduate of Staples High School and spent four years supervising sailing at the Longshore Sailing School.

“This is a crushing loss,” said John Kantor, current sailing school owner, in a posting on a local blog. “Doug was an outstanding sailor and was instrumental in getting Longshore Sailing School off the ground back in 1975. He was its first general manager, and he was instrumental in its success.”

Airplane pilot and friend Bruce Gordon of Aspen-based EcoFlight posted on Facebook upon learning of the tragedy:

“Doug was one of a kind, from being the very best of human beings, to being a wonderful husband and father, and exceptional friend and mentor in every kind of life skill.”

Added filmmaker Anson Fogel in another Facebook post, “…anyone who has filmed a lot in these mountains has ridden in his helicopter — he was a key part of the film business in Colorado.”

According to his company’s website, he had 22 years and more than 8,000 hours of experience in the high-country, mountains above 8,000 feet.

“He has completed 10 BELL Helicopter Training Academy Initial and Refresher courses plus an Advanced Flying Skills course geared towards accident prevention,” his biography said.

“He also is a graduate of the Mountain Flying and Vertical Reference courses with Canadian Helicopter, the acknowledged leader in civilian mountain helicopter flight training, and he recently returned from Flight Safety International’s 206 Recurrent training course spending three days in a simulator practicing emergency procedures.”

Ann Sheffer, who also maintains a home in Palm Springs, Calif. with husband Bill Scheffler, was said by friends to be en route to Aspen from Palm Springs.

In addition to sister Ann, he is survived by his, wife, Barbi, daughter, Brooke, brother Jonathan Sheffer, and many nieces, nephews, and cousins.


Posted 01/27/14 at 10:35 PM  Permalink


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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

Posted by Mark J. Marcus on January 28, 2014 at 02:21 AM | #

Ann, Bill & Susan, Jen, Timon,
Barbie & Brooke,
Our family send its deepest regrets upon hearing of this tragic loss.
Peter Jennings

Posted by Peter Jennings on January 28, 2014 at 02:29 AM | #

Dear Ann,

My sympathy on the loss of Doug.  I remember him well as a youngster in Westport, and he was a classmate of my son Scott at Staples.  Scott remembers him well and recalls catching up with him at a recent alumni meeting.

My thoughts are with you.


Posted by Albert S. Beasley, M.D. on January 28, 2014 at 06:35 PM | #

Our hearts go out to you.

Ellen and Mark Naftalin

Posted by ELLEN DALE NAFTALIN on January 28, 2014 at 07:57 PM | #

To all the Sheffer family, this is just heartbreaking news about Doug.  love and prayers surround you all, Linda & Ken

Posted by Linda Smith on January 29, 2014 at 04:38 PM | #