At about 1143 Mountain time, the two airplanes were substantially damaged during a mid-air collision. The Cessna 172 impacted an embankment. The flight instructor and private pilot receiving instruction aboard the Cessna 172 were fatally injured. The Cessna 180 impacted power lines and a fence during a forced landing. The pilot of the Cessna 180 sustained minor injuries. Visual conditions prevailed.
The Cessna 180 pilot stated she was northbound at approximately 7000 feet msl when she heard a loud bang. The airplane immediately pitched up about 50 degrees and rolled into an approximate 45-degree right bank. She adjusted power to control airplane pitch and was able to maintain flight with a 200-fpm descent. Aileron control and engine operation were normal, but there was limited elevator control. The pilot attempted to divert to a nearby airport, but ultimately executed a forced landing to a small open area adjacent to the airport in order to avoid trees short of the runway. The airplane struck power lines and a fence during the forced landing. A nearby weather observation included 60 miles of visibility with scattered clouds at 25,000 feet.