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Couple identified in Dolores plane crash loved to fly together

Jared and Karen Hansen were killed in a plane crash near their home Jan. 5. (Karen Hansen Facebook)
Their plane crashed 10 miles north of Dolores

Jared and Karen Hansen of Dolores have been identified as the two people who were killed in a plane crash about 10 miles north of Dolores on Saturday, Jan. 6.

The couple lived in a home outside Dolores, and they raised dogs in their breeding business, Rocky Mountain Biewer Terriers.

Jared Hansen has three sons, Kaden, Rustin and Collin, who live in Utah, and Karen has four children, Pepe, Rubi, Emil and Leon. According to Karen’s daughter Rubi Becker, 22, she and her two younger brothers, Emil and Leon, were raised by Jared and Karen in Dolores after the couple met in Germany. They were married in 2012.

According to a GoFundMe set up by Jared Hansen’s sister Jamie Rothe, he was her third sibling to die in the past three years.

“This travesty leaves my grieving parents with the heavy burden of organizing their third child’s funeral in three years, and the overwhelming responsibility of caring for their grandchildren,” Rothe said.

Jared Hansen’s parents, David and Kay Hansen, previously owned Mesa Verde Motorsports in Cortez, according to Rothe.

Rothe also shared that the couple worked together on their dog breeding business, which was their livelihood. The Biewer breed is native to Germany, and Rothe said Karen worked hard to make the breed recognized in the U.S. with the American Kennel Club.

Their dog-breeding website showed photos of dogs taken care of by the Hansens, and one of their services included delivering puppies to their new homes in their plane.

The couple were described as “avid pilots,” and their Facebook pages boasted many photos of the couple flying together in their plane. They even had “pilot at Hansen’s Airstrip” listed as part of their occupation, next to information about their dog-breeding business and owner at Hansen Acres.

Jared Hansen became a licensed pilot in 2021, and Karen followed suit in 2023.

The Hansens’ plane parked outside their log cabin home. (Rogers’ Enterprises Ltd. Facebook page)

Karen Hansen was originally from Berlin, Germany, and Rothe shared that Jared Hansen was a member of the Dolores Fire and Rescue, completing his fire academy training in 2021.

Confusion has surrounded the date of the crash.

On Monday, Jan. 8, the National Transportation Safety Board stated in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, that it was investigating “the Jan. 7 crash of a Just Aircraft Highlander airplane near Dolores, Colorado.” And a relative of Jared Hansen’s posted on Facebook that the crash occurred Friday, Jan. 5.

News and social media also incorrectly reported that the crash occurred as the plane was landing at the property.

However, high-level Montezuma County officials involved with the local investigation of the crash reported that it occurred the morning of Saturday, Jan. 6, as the Hansens were leaving their home near McPhee Reservoir.

Montezuma County Coroner George Deavers said Wednesday night that the plane had flown from the Cortez Municipal Airport to the Hansen property before the weekend and then crashed late Saturday morning on Jan. 6 while leaving the property. The cause of death was blunt force trauma, Deavers said.

“He flew home from the airport on Friday and then was leaving his property Saturday morning when he crashed,” Deavers said.

According to Becker, Jared and Karen were living at the cabin, separate from the property housing the dog breeding business at the time of the crash.

Because of winter conditions, the road to the cabin was closed, requiring Jared and Karen to fly in and out of their property, which has its own runway.

According to the last available flight data provided by FlightAware, the plane, registered under the number N712DG, left Cortez Municipal Airport at 4:02 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 4, and arrived at the property at 4:16 p.m.

Jared Hansen registered the plane in April, according to FlightAware. It had had several owners since it was deemed airworthy in August 2011, and all previous owners lived in warm-weather areas such as Florida and Texas before the plane was brought to Colorado.

Rothe shared her heartbreak in a public post on her Facebook page, saying, “My brother and his wife traded in their pilot wings for angel wings. I can’t believe it.”

On their breeding business’s community Facebook page Friends of Rocky Mountain Biewer Terriers, member Denise Christian expressed sadness at the news of the crash.

Their dog breeding website showed photos of dogs taken care of by the Hansens. Their services included delivering puppies to their new homes in their plane.

“Karen and Jared offered so much of themselves, and through their individual and collective generosity, kindness, commitment along with quality characteristics too numerous to list, a significant void has been created in the lives of so many after their private plane crash tore them from the bonds of this life,” Christian said. “They took with them many pieces, and my heart will never again be whole. The privilege of witnessing their energy and standing in their radiance was joy! They provided many with countless blessings! The loss of their energy has dimmed my world. They are loved now and always!”

Others expressed their sentiments on that page, on Instagram and personal Facebook posts.

They were reported missing by Karen’s daughter Rubi Becker on Saturday, Jan. 6.

“I’m the one that reported them missing, the one that started the whole investigation and the one that had to gather the family and inform them,” Becker said.

Becker also shared that she has been running the dog breeding business since her parents’ death.

The Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office and Montezuma County Search and Rescue searched for the couple Sunday, Jan. 7 and discovered the plane’s wreckage in the afternoon at the couple’s property in the San Juan National Forest near McPhee Reservoir.

The Aviation Safety Network said the Just Aircraft Highlander plane crashed and burst into flames, killing both occupants. The pair were pronounced dead by emergency personnel at the scene. Just Aircraft, which specializes in the design of light/experimental short takeoff and landing aircraft, is based in Walhalla, South Carolina. It makes plane kits and “ready-to-fly experimental amateur-built aircraft.”

The Journal has left a message for Greg Walker, who built the plane in 2011, but has not received a response.

According to information about the plane, it was a fixed wing, single engine Highlander with a Rotax Bombadier (reciprocating) engine. The plane had two seats.

The flight class listed for the plane was “experimental.”

The National Transportation Safety Board in Denver continues to investigate the cause of the crash.

A joint funeral is scheduled for Jan. 23 in Cortez and Jan. 26 in Utah. The funeral on Jan. 23 will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Elks Lodge in Cortez, and the funeral on Jan. 26 will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Jordan Heights Chapel in South Jordan, Utah.