By PoliceOne Staff
PUEBLO, Colo. — A deputy and a retired officer combing the Wet Mountains for marijuana grows were killed when their surveillance plane crashed Friday.
Retired Pueblo Police Captain John Barger, an experienced pilot who aided local police in their flight needs, and Pueblo County Sheriff's Captain Leide DeFusco were searching an area that recently yielded $15 million worth of marijuana when their Piper Super Cruiser went down, The Officer Down Memorial Page reported.
Approximately 20 minutes before the plane was due back at the airport, radio contact was lost. According to The Denver Channel, Flight for Life crews used furls of smoke to trace the crash site to the San Isabel National Forest, where as many as 60 personnel worked the search and rescue mission amid rugged terrain.
The cause of the crash is under investigation. DeFusco was a law enforcement veteran of 21 years and Barger, 32 years.
Barger "died doing the two things he loved most in life — being a cop and flying an airplane," A close friend and fellow pilot told the Pueblo Chieftan. "That says it all."