Probable Cause of United Regional Helicopter Crash Released - Newschannel 6 Now | Wichita Falls, TX

Probable Cause of United Regional Helicopter Crash Released

Wichita Falls, Texas - The National Transportation Safety Board has released the probable cause of an Air Evac helicopter crash that caused the death of three people this past October.

On October 4th, the chopper went down on approach to United Regional Hospital in Wichita Falls after departing from Duncan, Oklahoma to transport Waurika shooting victim Buddy Rhodes.

 Two flight nurses, 27-year-old Leslie Stewart and 51-year-old Johan van der Colff, and the patient died as a result of the crash.

 Only the pilot, Zechariah Smith, survived.

When interviewed during the preliminary report, the pilot recalled the helicopter spinning at least five times before impacting the ground.  After the impact, the chopper quickly filled up with smoke. The pilot then used his helmet to break out the window.  When asked what he thought caused the helicopter to spin to the right so quickly, he replied, "I don't know."

In a report released today, the National Transportation Safety Board now says it likely that that the pilot did not adequately account for the helicopter's low airspeed when he applied power to go-around at a low airspeed in dark, night condition

The chopper went into a rapid, violent right spin, or yaw, and he lost control. Wiping out the tail rotor's effectiveness, this ultimately resulted in the deadly crash.

The NTSB found no mechanical problems that would have caused the chopper's right spin.

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