6 Die in National Guard Eurocopter UH-72 Helicopter Crash in Puerto Rico


SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – A Puerto Rico National Guard helicopter crashed in the ocean while en route to a drug raid. The body of one of the six people on board has been found and the remaining five are feared dead, officials said Tuesday.

The body was found nearly a mile (1.5 kilometers) off the coast in front of the Grand Melia resort late Tuesday morning, said Nino Correa, search and rescue director of the Emergency Management Agency. The victim has not yet been identified.

Crews are searching for the remaining passengers, and Police Chief Jose Figueroa Sancha told NotiUno radio station that officials found the fuselage of the UH-72 Lakota helicopter just north of the island.

It is unclear what caused the crash. The helicopter was headed for the neighboring island of Vieques when it disappeared late Monday just north of the coastal city of Rio Grande. One pilot had 10 years of experience and the other had at least six years, and neither reported any problems during the flight, said National Guard Gen. Antonio Vicens.

“The communication disappeared,” he said.

Two of the passengers were prosecutors with the local justice department and the other four were officials with the National Guard, three of them crew members, said U.S. Coast Guard spokesman Ricardo Castrodad.

The prosecutors, Francisco Mujica de Leon and Mario Torres Marin, worked for the division of organized crimes, said Justice Secretary Guillermo Somoza, adding that he has known both of them for more than seven years. Torres is president of the Association of Prosecutors.

“It is an extremely sad, difficult and painful day,” Mujica de Leon said. “They were extremely dedicated prosecutors who went the extra mile.”

The others aboard the helicopter were not identified pending notification of their relatives, officials said.

The helicopter was flying at about 400 feet (123 meters) and was fairly new, having been bought in May 2009, Vicens said.

It apparently changed its route, but it is unclear why.

Speculation was that the officials were enroute to Vieques to help serve 43 arrest warrants after a seven-month investigation into drug dealers on an island popular with tourists. Several housewives are among the suspects, according to justice spokesman Fidel Rodriguez.  The group is suspected of earning more than $2 million a year, he said.

Among the officials involved in the raid were 36 members of the U.S. National Guard, which has been helping Puerto Rican police battle the island’s rising crime.

The U.S. Caribbean territory of 4 million people has registered its third-worst year for homicides, with more than 920 people reported killed this year. A record 995 people were killed in 1994.


The UH-72 Lakota is a twin-engine helicopter with a single, four-bladed main rotor. The UH-72 is a militarized version of the Eurocopter EC145 and is built by American Eurocopter division of EADS North America. Marketed as the UH-145, the helicopter was selected as the winner of the United States Army’s Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) program on 30 June 2006. In October 2006, American Eurocopter was awarded a production contract for 345 aircraft to replace aging UH-1H and OH-58A/C helicopters in the Army and Army National Guard fleets.


1 Dead After Missouri State Highway Patrol Helicopter Crash

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MO — The pilot of a Missouri State Highway Patrol helicopter died in a crash in a residential subdivision in the Clarkson Valley area Friday morning.

Bell 206B JetRanger Wreckage

No one on the ground was injured. The pilot was Highway Patrol Sgt. Joe Schuengel, 47, a 17-year veteran of the Missouri State Highway Patrol. The highway patrol’s headquarters in Jefferson City confirmed that the helicopter carried only Schuengel, who was killed on impact.

The helicopter was working traffic enforcement above Interstate 55 in Jefferson County that morning. Two other highway patrol troopers were in the helicopter for that duty, but Schuengel dropped them off and was returning to Spirit of St. Louis Airport in Chesterfield when the helicopter crashed at about 11 a.m. The tower at Spirit airport lost the helicopter from radar, then called in a St. Louis County police helicopter to fly over the area and see what had happened

The helicopter crashed in the Kehrs Mill Trail subdivision along Horseshoe Ridge Road between Chesterfield and Ballwin. One observer and about a dozen neighbors ran over to crash site, which was strewn with glass and papers, he said. The wreckage was smoking and spilling fuel and oil. He said he saw the pilot, who wasn’t moving.

Several local workers who were also in the area and said they heard what seemed like a scraping noise and then a loud thud. When they got to the crash site, they found the helicopter’s rotor had detached from the flattened wreckage of the rest of the craft. The rotor ended up in somone’s yard, they said. According to the FAA, the Bell 206B JetRanger helicopter was manufactured in 1981. The helicopter was Troop C’s only helicopter.

Chesterfield, Missouri – Highway Patrol Helicopter Crash

Bell 206B JetRanger Helicopter Crash-Chesterfield, Missouri

The pilot of a Missouri State Highway Patrol helicopter, Sgt. Joe Schuengel died in a crash in a residential subdivision in the Clarkson Valley area.  No one on the ground was injured. Sgt. Joe Schuengel was a 17 year veteran of the highway patrol. The Bell 206B helicopter only carried Sgt. Schuengel, who was killed on impact. The Bell 206B was assigned to traffic enforcement.

The Bell 206B helicopter came down on a street and did not hit any homes. The Bell 206 helicopter was working speeding enforcement above Interstate 55 in Jefferson County. Two other highway patrol troopers were in the helicopter for that duty, however Sgt. Schuengel had already dropped them off and he was returning to Spirit of St. Louis Airport in Chesterfield when the Bell 206 helicopter crashed.

The copter crashed along Horseshoe Ridge Road, of Kehrs Mill Road in an unincorporated St. Louis County between Chesterfield and Ballwin. The subdivision is the Kehrs Mill Trail subdivision, consisting of 102 homes that each sit on two acres or more.

At the crash site, witnesses saw the wreckage, which was strewn with glass and papers.  The Bell 206 Helicopter was smoking and spilling gas and oil.

Several Ameren Missouri workers who were also in the area said that when they got to the crash site, they found the helicopter’s rotor had detached from the flattened wreckage. The rotor ended up in someone’s yard.

The patrol’s aircraft division had five helicopters, some of which are used in conjunction with the Defense Department for marijuana eradication, while others, like the Bell 206 Sgt. Schuengel was flying, are used for traffic enforcement and searches by air.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Bell 206B JetRanger helicopter was manufactured in 1981. The Bell 206B helicopter was Troop C’s only helicopter. Sgt. Schuengel assisted in searches for missing children in the area and often appeared at community events as a representative of the highway patrol.  St. Schuengel is the 29th member of the Missouri Highway Patrol to die in the line of duty.


Two Killed in Bell 206-L4 Houston News Helicopter Crash

HOUSTON — A pilot and television camera operator died Monday October 13th, 2010 when their helicopter crashed near Houston on the way to cover a news story.

KTRK reported the helicopter was flying to the scene of a shooting when it crashed in a state forest near Conroe, on the northern edge of Houston’s suburbs.

Local stations showed video of burning trees and a pile of debris made up of pieces of the helicopter. The station’s SkyEye logo was partially visible on one piece.
“All of us at KTRK-TV are deeply saddened by the tragic accident involving SkyEye 13 and our hearts go out to the families of the pilot and the photographer,” station spokesman Tom Ash said in a statement.

It was not immediately clear what caused the 11:30 a.m. crash. Authorities from the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board were heading to the area to investigate, said Sgt. Kenneth Hiebert of the state Department of Public Safety.

“Most of it burned” after impact, Hiebert said.

There were a few houses nearby but none were damaged.

The aircraft, a Bell 206L4, was owned by Helicopters Inc., company spokeswoman Seva Kaiser told the Houston Chronicle. She said she did not know how old the helicopter was.

The company leases aircraft to about 70 news organizations around the country.

Man Dies In Crash Of Homemade Helicopter in Waller County, Texas

A Waller County man died over the weekend when the small helicopter he was piloting crashed near the Waller – Austin County line in Texas.

Waller County sheriff’s investigators identified the pilot as William Worthington, 57, of the Pattison area.

Witnesses called 911 after seeing the helicopter go down around noon Saturday, September 25, 2010 west of the Pattison community. It was reportedly trailing black smoke before the crash.

Emergency responders from both Waller and Austin counties searched for the crash scene, eventually finding the downed chopper in a field near FM 1458 and Clemons Switch Road by following a plume of smoke.

When rescue crews arrived, the chopper was on fire with Worthington trapped inside. It was not immediately known if he was killed on impact.

Investigators said Worthington had built the helicopter himself.  The cause of the accident remains under investigation.

One Injured in Michigan Helicopter Crash

LAKEVIEW, Mich. (AP) – A pilot has been injured in a helicopter crash in central Michigan.

The Grand Rapids Press, WZZM and WOOD reported 73-year-old pilot Clayton Capen of Mecosta was the only person aboard when the helicopter struck a hangar Saturday at Lakeview Airport, about 40 miles northeast of Grand Rapids.

Michigan State Police Sgt. Aaron Sweeney says Capen was landing about 1:15 p.m. to get fuel when the craft struck the top of a hangar and crashed. Sweeney says the helicopter ended up on its side.

Capen was listed in serious condition at Spectrum Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids.

Mecosta is north of Lakeview.

(Copyright ©2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved)

2 Dead in Georgia Helicopter Crash

A missing helicopter was found Friday afternoon in Lumpkin County, a spokeswoman for the Civil Air Patrol said. The pilot and passenger were killed in the north Georgia crash.

The Civil Air Patrol began searching for a bright-colored Robinson R44 Wednesday evening after relatives of the sole passenger called the Blairsville Airport wondering if he arrived safely.

The helicopter left the North Palm Beach County airport in Florida Monday and was scheduled to arrive that afternoon at the helipad at the Brasstown Valley Resort and Spa in Young Harris, said Paige Joyner, spokeswoman for the Civil Air Patrol.

Adam Reeves of Jupiter, Fla., was the pilot of the chopper. Joyner said officials are not releasing the name of the passenger.

The helicopter landed in Madison, Ga., for fuel at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. It was due in Blairsville at 7 p.m. but never arrived. It is unclear when it left North Palm Beach County airport.

“I started receiving calls after I closed up about 6:30 pm”, John Hamler, airport manager of the Blairsville airport, said on Wednesday. “The family called from Florida looking to know if relatives had landed in the helicopter. And, we had no helicopters.”

Injuries Reported in Ruby Mountain, Nevada Helicopter Crash

Four emergency rescuers survived a helicopter crash in Nevada’s Ruby Mountains Monday.

The Bell Ranger went down near Angel Lake in the Ruby Mountains of Nevada at about 4 p.m. at an elevation of about 8,500 feet.

The crew had just finished rescuing a stranded climber when the crash occurred, according to authorities.  Three Elko, Nevada firefighters aboard and a the local pilot escaped serious injury. Pilot Dale Coleman of El Aero was transported by Summit Air to the Northeastern Nev. Regional Hospital with what was described as lacerations to the head.

Mechanic in Fatal Helicopter Accident Called a Hero

SALT LAKE CITY — New details have emerged about a deadly helicopter crash.  One person was killed and three people were injured in the accident.  It has been learned that one of the men involved in the accident was injured while trying to rescue the other victims.

A mechanic, Randall Ranson was in the general aviation area of Salt Lake International Airport.   Witnesses have come forward to say that Ranson ran toward the wreckage to save a critically injured man, right before there was an explosion.

“It takes a special person to put themselves aside and in harms way for others that are in need.” -Robert Carmichael

Around 3:30 p.m. on the 17th, three men were attempting to load a helicopter on a trailer when one of the skids slipped of the side. Witnesses say the rotor then hit the truck and broke apart, sending debris flying.

At that point, Ranson came running out of the hangar he where he was working, and tried to pull Tom Kalis to safety.

“Just as he was reaching out for him the helicopter erupted into fire and Randall sustained severe burn injuries,” says witness Robert Carmichael. “It takes a special person to put themselves aside and in harms way for others that are in need.”

Kalis died at the scene. Ranson suffered burns and was rushed to the hospital. Pilot Jared Kump and co-pilot Darrin Kalis, Tom Kalis’ brother, were injured as well.

The NTSB is investigating the accident.  It could be several weeks before their final report is released.

Connecticut Mourns Pilot Killed in Helicopter Crash

Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell on Friday ordered state flags flown at half-staff after a former Seymour resident and graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London was killed in a helicopter accident off the coast of Washington.

Lt. Sean Krueger, 33, died with crewmates AMT1 Adam Hoke and AMT2 Brett Banks when CG6017, a Sikorsky MH-60 Jayhawk, crashed Wednesday flying from Oregon to Alaska.

“Connecticut grieves the loss of this brave and dedicated Coast Guard officer, whose career exemplifies the service motto, Semper Paratus — Always Prepared,” Rell said in a statement. “After graduating from the service academy in New London in 2000 he served our nation with honor, including participating in a daring rescue in extremely heavy seas while on a pilot exchange with the British Royal Navy.”

“… I ask that each Connecticut resident pause and remember not only the loss of Lt. Krueger, but the continuing service and sacrifice of every member of our nation’s armed services …,” Rell said.

Krueger leaves behind a wife and three young children.

U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Robert J. Papp ordered a safety stand-down at all air stations a day after the crash.

“I am deeply concerned with the number of serious aviation mishaps that have occurred in the last 22 months,” Papp said in an e-mail to Coast Guard personnel. The stand-down requires units to cease all non-essential activities and focus on safety practices.

Krueger had posted concerns about Class A mishaps on his Facebook page. A Class A mishap is a serious crash, according to the Coast Guard’s website.

The Coast Guard was not able to immediately provide more information about those incidents Friday.

News reports over the last year show a variety of Coast Guard aircraft encountered trouble, including another Jayhawk, which crashed in Utah in March. There were no fatalities in the Utah crash, which remains under investigation. A Lockheed Martin-built HC-130 Hercules four-engine prop plane crashed off the coast of San Diego in October 2009, also still being investigated. That wreck killed seven.

A spokesman for Sikorsky Aircraft in Stratford said it is available to help in the investigation into Wednesday’s Jayhawk crash.

“We have offered to provide any assistance that may be requested,” said Sikorsky spokesman Paul Jackson on Friday. “However, the circumstances of this accident, as reported by media, suggest our assistance may not be necessary.”

The Associated Press reported the Coast Guard was recovering the wreckage of the helicopter Friday. It also said witnesses saw the Jayhawk fly into power lines before crashing off the coast of Washington.

“We extend our prayers and sincere condolences to the families of those involved in this accident. The loss of our brave servicemen and women is always tragic,” Jackson said.

Staff writers Rob Varnon, Brittany Lyte and the Associated Press contributed to this report.