Seattle Looks At Helipad Rules After Deadly CrashPosted: March 19, 2014
The news helicopter had just stopped at a helipad to refuel on its way to another assignment when it crashed and burst into flames yards from the Space Needle in the heart of Seattle, killing the two men on board and seriously injuring a third man who was on fire when he escaped from his car.
It may be months before federal investigators know what caused the chopper to plummet at a busy intersection, setting three vehicles ablaze and spewing burning fuel down the street during the Tuesday morning commute.
“It was just a fireball. The whole thing burst into flames. I saw people running from their cars.”
The KOMO-TV flight was one of many helicopter flights that take off and land in Seattle’s downtown. Mayor Ed Murray said officials would review rules for helicopter pads in the city to determine if any changes need to be made.
Witnesses reported hearing unusual noises coming from the aircraft as it lifted off after refueling, said Dennis Hogenson, deputy regional chief of the Western Pacific Region for the National Transportation Safety Board.
They also said the aircraft rotated counterclockwise before it crashed near the Seattle Center campus, which is home to the Space Needle, restaurants and performing arts centers.
Bo Bain, an excavation foreman at a nearby construction project, watched the helicopter land as usual, one of many flights he has watched come and go in recent months. But he said something sounded different when the aircraft left the helipad Tuesday morning.
“It pitched sideways. It was off balance, and you could tell right away something wasn’t right,” Bain said. “The helicopter was struggling to stay up. It spun around, hit the top of the tree and landed on the street.”
Seconds later, he said: “It was just a fireball. The whole thing burst into flames. I saw people running from their cars.”
Hogenson said a preliminary report on the crash is expected in five days, followed by a fuller report with a probable cause in up to a year…Read the rest…
Associated Press writers Doug Esser, Manuel Valdes and Donna Gordon Blankinship contributed to this report.