NBC Sports Exec Survives Jet Crash

Times Staff Writers

NBC Sports Chairman Dick Ebersol and his college-age son emerged from the wreckage of a chartered jet, but his 14-year-old son was presumed to have died in the crash, authorities said today.

The 18-seat plane, with six people on board, crashed Sunday morning at Montrose Regional Airport in southwest Colorado, not far from the Telluride ski area. Two crew members were killed.

The plane slid sideways into a road, and the impact ripped the cockpit from the fuselage. Ebersol's older son, Charles, helped his father through the gap, a witness said.

Ebersol, 57, and his son remained hospitalized today.

A "complete and thorough search" revealed no sign of the second son, Edward, on the plane or anywhere near the crash site, said Matt Eilts, Montrose County chief deputy coroner, at a news conference this morning.

"We believe at this time that the boy has probably perished within the crash," Eilts said.

A snowstorm had eased up before the plane, a CL601 Challenger, prepared to take off for South Bend, Ind., where Charles Ebersol is a senior at the University of Notre Dame. There was no word if the weather was a factor in the crash.

The pilot and a flight attendant were killed, said Michael O'Connor, regional duty officer with the Federal Aviation Administration in Washington state.

Ebersol's wife of 23 years, "Kate and Allie" and "McMillan and Wife" star Susan Saint James, was not on the plane. The family lives in Connecticut.

Neither NBC Sports nor St. Mary's Hospital in Grand Junction released information on the Ebersols' conditions. The co-pilot in Denver was in critical condition, authorities said.

Investigators from the FAA and National Safety Transportation Board were en route to the airport, 185 miles southwest of Denver.

Dick Ebersol had been in Los Angeles for Thanksgiving and for the USC-Notre Dame football game Saturday. He was believed to have flown Sunday with his wife and their two sons to Telluride, where he dropped off his wife. The others were to fly to South Bend.

A witness, Chuck Distel, said he saw a man he later identified as Charles Ebersol help Dick Ebersol through the wrecked front of the plane, according to Associated Press. Distel told AP the younger man cried and yelled, "Oh my God, oh my God!"

Telluride is a remote, former mining town in the shadow of the San Juan Mountains. Over the years it has become popular with celebrities and top executives.

Dick Pound, a Montreal lawyer and former International Olympic Committee vice president who played a key role in negotiating some of NBC's Olympic deals, said of Sunday's crash: "We're devastated to hear this. He certainly has taken Roone Arledge's spot as the Olympic broadcaster. ... Our prayers are with him and his family."

Ebersol's television career began as apprentice to Arledge, who later revolutionized televised sports in the 1970s at ABC. Ebersol took a break from his studies at Yale to be television's first researcher at the 1968 Grenoble Winter Olympic Games.

Ebersol and Arledge, working into the early morning at the 1972 Munich Games, were only yards away when Palestinian terrorists sneaked into the Olympic Village -- setting in motion the kidnapping and murder of 11 Israeli coaches and athletes.

In 1974, after six years at ABC Sports, Ebersol moved to NBC, where he played a key role in launching — and later was executive producer of — "Saturday Night Live."

He left the show and the network in 1985, returning in 1989 as president of NBC Sports.

Kelly reported from Denver and Abrahamson from Los Angeles. Times staff writers Meg James and Mary MacVean in Los Angeles and Associated Press contributed to this report.

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