At 12:48 MDT, a Cessna 172R struck rising terrain at Independence Pass near Aspen. The pilot was killed and the two passengers were seriously injured. The airplane took off from Aspen and climbed toward the pass. A witness said the aircraft was flying slowly with a nose-high attitude when it struck terrain. The accident site was at 11,948 feet msl in a narrow valley. Density altitude at the site was calculated to be 14,100 feet msl at the time.