The jet pilot and passenger who flew up De Beque Canyon at an estimated 300 mph said in court papers that Xcel Energy was at fault for an accident in which the jet snapped seven power cables.
Pilot Brian Evans and his passenger, Raymond Mez Davoudi, each named the energy company in separate responses to a federal suit filed by an Aspen man who claims he suffered damage to his hands and hearing as a result of the incident on May 28, 2015.
An Xcel Energy spokesman said the company isn't a party to the suit and was unable to comment on it.
Steve Centofanti was driving west on Interstate 70 when he saw the jet, a Warsaw Pact-era trainer, approaching — apparently straight at him.
Centofanti suffered lost feelings in his hands from gripping his steering wheel "in a panic fearing for his life and the lives of his passengers."
He also suffered hearing damage from the roar of the jet when Evans turned it skyward after it struck the cables near the Grand Valley Diversion Dam.
Centofanti's vehicle, as well as others, was struck by cables that whipped through the air as they were slashed by the jet.
Responses to the lawsuit filed by Evans and Davoudi said Xcel Energy was a "necessary and indispensable" party that Centofanti had failed to include in the suit.
Xcel should have marked the cables, and should be liable for any damages awarded to Centofanti, lawyers for Evans and Davoudi said.
Evans is a former U.S. Marine Corps pilot and Davoudi is a San Diego restaurateur who, according to postings on his Facebook page, eagerly accepted Evans' invitation to fly with him in the jet, a Vodochody L-39C, from Idaho to Alabama.
The Federal Aviation Administration revoked Evans' pilot's license after the incident, noting that Evans had flown the jet at less than 500 feet and that pilots are not to operate aircraft "in a careless or reckless manner so as to endanger the life or property of another."
Colorado State Patrol reports noted that a truck driver on Interstate 70 that day could have been fatally injured by whipping cables. Another driver, Steve Reynolds of Glenwood Springs, suffered extensive damage to his car from the slashed cables.
The jet suffered extensive damage in the incident but Evans was able to circle Grand Junction for some 45 minutes before landing without incident at Grand Junction Regional Airport, from which it had taken off earlier that day.
"Xcel Energy is not a party to these particular proceedings and therefore cannot comment on them," the company said in a statement. "Our transmission system in the area was repaired, and our primary concern today is the continued operation of our system to ensure safe and reliable service to our customers."