Two Dead in Seattle Helicopter Crash
About the Seattle Helicopter Crash
According to a news report from the Los Angeles Times, a KOMO-TV helicopter had just taken off from the top of a downtown building when witnesses heard what was described as “strange noises.”
The helicopter began to spin before crashing into the ground where it exploded.
Both the pilot, Gary Pfitzner, and a photojournalist, Bill Strothman, were killed in the crash that also damaged three nearby cars. A driver of one the vehicles, Richard Newman, was taken to a hospital where he is being treated for serious burns.
National Transportation Safety Board Launches Investigation
The Eurocopter AS350 B2 that crashed was a temporary replacement being used by KOMO-TV while upgrades were being made to their usual aircraft. The helicopter had previously been used by two other news stations over the past ten years.
Investigators are still trying to determine the cause of the crash; environmental factors such as wind are being considered.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) transported the wreckage from the crash to nearby Auburn Municipal Airport. Investigators say that a preliminary report should be available within the next five days.
Yesterday’s deadly helicopter crash comes shortly after the NTSB launched a safety awareness campaign. Part of the campaigns’ focus is on awareness of the “unique characteristics of helicopter operations.”
Additionally, the helicopter industry is being asked to take extra precautions when inspecting and repairing helicopters. Pilots are reminded that aircraft should be grounded or landed if any problems are suspected.
Seattle mayor, Ed Murray, has called for a review of helipad regulations. He noted that the damage from yesterday’s crash could have been “much worse” due to its proximity to the Space Needle.
Since 2004, the NTSB estimates there have been 500 fatalities in 1,600 crashes involving helicopters.