PHOTOS: New report details helicopter breaking apart before crashing into Gulf, killing 4
BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Friday afternoon, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released a preliminary report detailing a fatal helicopter crash in the Gulf of Mexico, just off the shore of Louisiana.
The crash happened December 29, 2022, and claimed the life of 4 people, including two Mississippians: David Scarborough from Lizana and Tim Graham from Quitman.
Now, NTSB releases information and photos that give a little more insight into what happened that day.
According to the report, the aircraft, a Bell 407 helicopter, left GAO airport in Galliano, Louisiana and headed toward the West Delta 106 offshore platform in the Gulf. Once it landed, four passengers left the helicopter and had a quick conversation with the three platform workers who were scheduled to get on board and head back to the mainland.
These three passengers then boarded the helicopter. There were no eyewitnesses or surveillance video of the helicopter taking off, but a few workers reported hearing the helicopter’s engine continue to run after it landed on the helipad. They said they heard the engine noise increase for takeoff, then the sound of items hitting the platform.
The individuals reported immediately going outside, where they saw the helicopter fuselage floating in the water. Around the fuselage, separated from it, were the tail boom and landing skids. The emergency skid floats were inflated.
The witnesses launched the platform’s emergency escape capsule to try and help the four passengers and pilot in the helicopter, but they were unable to reach it before it sank.
Photos in the report show the area where the chain link perimeter on the helipad was badly damaged, and a portion of a main rotor blade that broke off during the crash.
Photos also show a light from the perimeter of the helipad that was damaged in the crash and part of the helicopter- the upper hydraulic servo cover- that crashed into a freshly-painted portion of the platform’s staircase.
Investigators found debris scattered throughout the platform on decks below the helipad. The report says most of the debris “was consistent with the materials used to construct the main rotor blades.”
The helicopter fuselage and separated tail boom were located in the water January 2 and transported to a facility in Baton Rouge. The engine control unit (ECU) was removed from the helicopter and shipped to the NTSB Vehicle Recorder Laboratory for data extraction.
A second perimeter light, as well as the cockpit’s image recorder, was missing and unable to be recovered.
NTSB says this is a preliminary report, and information is subject to change. The NTSB website says it tries to complete an investigation within 12 to 24 months, but it can depend on factors like the complexity of the investigation and the workload of the agency’s investigators.
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