NBC exec survives plane crash
Younger son missing, while 2 crew members killed in Colorado
By John Marshall
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. -- NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol and his college-aged son emerged from the fiery wreckage of a corporate jet after it crashed during takeoff and burst into flames, killing two crew members. Rescuers were still searching for Ebersol's younger son, whose seat was missing from the smoldering ruins.
The 18-seat charter jet with six people on board crashed Sunday morning at Montrose Regional Airport in southwest Colorado, not far from the Telluride Ski Area. A heavy snowstorm had lightened up before the plane prepared to depart for South Bend, Ind., where Ebersol's son Charles is a senior at Notre Dame.
A witness said the impact ripped the cockpit from the fuselage, and that Charles Ebersol helped his 57-year-old father to safety through the front of the plane.
The pilot and a flight attendant were killed, said Michael O'Connor, regional duty officer with the Federal Aviation Administration in Washington state. The co-pilot was hospitalized in Denver, while Dick and Charles Ebersol were hospitalized in Grand Junction, witnesses said.
A second son, 14-year-old Edward, was missing, Denver NBC affiliate KUSA-TV reported. The station said crews searched by helicopter and on the ground, but that even "Teddy" Ebersol's plane seat could not be found.
A Montrose County sheriff's spokeswoman said the teenager had not been located by early today.
Ebersol's wife, actress Susan Saint James, was not on the plane, the station said. Saint James starred in "Kate and Allie" and "McMillan and Wife." The family lives in Connecticut.
Linda McCool, a nursing supervisor at Montrose Memorial Hospital, said three men were taken to the hospital after the crash and later transferred to other hospitals. Dan Prinster, vice president of St. Mary's Hospital in Grand Junction, said two people were moved there from Montrose Memorial and another patient was being flown to a burn unit in Denver. Neither McCool nor Prinster would release any other information on the survivors.
Known as a television innovator, Ebersol has a long history at NBC.
He became the network's director of late-night programming in 1974 replaced Lorne Michaels for a rocky tenure as executive producer of "Saturday Night Live" in the early 1980s. Ebersol, of Litchfield, Conn., became president of NBC Sports in 1989 and recently signed a contract that keeps him at the network through 2012.
Ebersol is best-known for his love affair with the Olympics. A protege of Olympics-coverage pioneer Roone Arledge, he worked as an ABC researcher at the 1968 Grenoble Winter Games and carried on Arledge's philosophy of presenting the Olympics through storytelling, rather than emphasizing results.
"He is very innovative," Fox Sports chairman David Hill said Sunday. "He's obviously a great leader and, from my perspective, a very worthy competitor."