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Houston TV Chopper Crashes, 2 Dead

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by Armchair_QB, Oct 13, 2008.

  1. Armchair_QB

    Armchair_QB Well-Known Member

    Didn't see a thread on this.


    Channel 13 chopper crash kills 2 in Montgomery County
    By RENÉE C. LEE and DAVID BARRON Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle
    Oct. 13, 2008, 2:55PM

    State troopers investigate the site where a helicopter used by Channel 13 crashed in Montgomery County, killing the pilot and a photographer who were on their way to cover a story nearby.

    A pilot and photographer who were working for Houston TV station KTRK Channel 13 died late this morning when their helicopter crashed in thick woods in Montgomery County.

    The ABC affiliate confirmed that the aircraft's two occupants, who were employed by contractors, were killed in the crash. The station said it lost contact with the helicopter about 11:15 a.m.

    The two men were identified as pilot John Downhower and photographer Dave Garrett.

    The station aired the final seconds of video it received from the helicopter. It showed the aircraft banking to the right before the screen went to black.

    No information is yet available on what caused the crash, which Sgt. Kenneth Hiebert of the Texas Department of Public Safety said occurred as the two were on their way to report on a shooting at a location about four miles from the crash site.

    Investigators from the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board were on their way to the site, Hiebert said.

    The helicopter went down about 200 feet off Peoples Road near Pine Acres Road, west of Interstate 45 in the W.G. Jones State Forest. The spot is about one mile south of FM 1488.

    Hiebert said the craft came down at a sharp angle, hit the ground and bounced up into the trees. It was shattered by the impact and both men were ejected, he said.

    Harold Robinson, who lives about 200 yards from the crash site, said he was in his backyard when the crash occurred.

    "I heard the helicopter and I heard it when it hit the ground," said Robinson, who has lived there for about 45 years. "I heard a massive explosion."

    He said he headed for the crash site in his four-wheeler, but could not get close.

    "I didn't see anything but smoke, a lot of black smoke," Robinson said.

    "As soon as I heard it, I knew it killed everybody in it," he added. "People don't survive that kind of stuff."

    The aircraft, owned by Helicopters Inc., was a Bell 206L4, said company spokeswoman Seva Kaiser. She said it was built in 1993.

    The company was founded in 1978 and leases aircraft to about 70 news organizations around the country. In Houston, it also leases helicopters to KPRC Channel 2 and to Metro Traffic, which is owned by Westwood One.

    "We're all very devastated by this," Kaiser said. "We have our executives en route."

    Channel 13 anchor Art Rascon expressed sorrow at the news and condolences to the families of Garrett and Downhower.

    "Having been in and out of that chopper many times and working with the gentlemen involved here, it certainly is a heartbreaking story we bring to you," Rascon said on the air.

    Members of the Needham Volunteer Fire Department were the first to arrive at the site, said department spokesman Stuart Norman. He said firefighters confirmed the two deaths and extinguished fires in the wreckage and surrounding area, aided by members of the River Plantation volunteer department.

    The crash was the first involving a Houston-area news helicopter since November 2000, when a helicopter leased by KRIV Channel 26 crashed in a River Oaks neighborhood, killing pilot Donald Sumner, 38.

    Witnesses told investigators that craft was making wide turns when it plunged about 300 feet and clipped a power line, crashing into a street.
  2. Lieslntx

    Lieslntx Active Member

    I'm surprised no one has posted on this thread yet. Maybe it is only a big deal down here in Houston.

    I am too stunned for comment, as I tend to get when something tragic strikes close.
  3. 93Devil

    93Devil Well-Known Member

    Their families are in my prayers.

    I know we have a certified helicopter pilot on this board. Hopefully they can lend some insight into this tragedy.
  4. Lieslntx

    Lieslntx Active Member

    Apparently, they were going to cover a story about a fugitive that was trying to escape police and had a wreck and was killed. (I'm not 100% sure on this, as I can't find any stories online and I don't have cable and wasn't able to hear the 6-o'clock news clearly with my antenna reception.)

    Not that it matters what they were going to cover. It is very tragic and the families and their co-workers will receive my thoughts and prayers.
  5. Blitz

    Blitz Active Member

    I've ridden in a big one (Blackhawk) and a smaller traffic reporter job.
    Helicopters are amazing, but pretty scary crafts, if you think about it.
    Condolences to the families of these two. I had not heard of this tragedy.
  6. SnoopyBoy

    SnoopyBoy Member

    The fugitive should be charged with two counts of manslaughter, if he wasn't killed. Had he not been a deviant and pathetic loser, these two fathers would be alive.
  7. Simon_Cowbell

    Simon_Cowbell Active Member


    We shouldn't be pursuing police chases in helicopters then.

    If cops get killed chasing the guy, that's a different deal to me.
  8. Captain_Kirk

    Captain_Kirk Well-Known Member

    I recall a similar incident that I believe occurred in NYC with a traffic copter, probably a decade or so ago.

    A local radio station played the audio, and it was quite haunting hearing the traffic reporter telling the pilot, "Hit the water! Hit the water!"
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