Seattle News Helicopter Crash: Two Killed
A news helicopter has crashed onto a busy street near Seattle’s famous Space Needle, killing two people on board and critically injuring a motorist.The chopper belonging to KOMO-TV had apparently been attempting to take off from the station’s rooftop when it went down.
Three vehicles were struck when the helicopter crashed onto Broad Street, between the station and Seattle’s iconic landmark.
The Seattle Fire Department said two people – both of whom had been on board the chopper – were found dead in the wreckage.
A third person who managed to free himself from his car was taken to hospital in a critical condition.
A hospital spokesperson said the man had burns on up to 20% of his body and would probably require surgery.
KOMO-TV identified the pilot of the helicopter as Gary Pfitzner.
The other man killed was Bill Strothman, a former KOMO photographer who was working for the helicopter leasing company.
One witness said it appeared that the helicopter nose-dived onto the street.
“It looked like the helicopter was trying to take off, and it just was trying to stabilise and it looked odd … and it just took a nose dive right down there on the street,” the witness told KOMO-TV.
Chris McOlgan told the station he was in a car just behind the crash.
He said: “It just blew up instantly. Nothing could have been done.”
Only the tail of the helicopter could be identified among the burned metal after fire crews put out the blaze.
An hour after the crash, firefighters were cleaning up spilled fuel, which left a strong smell in the area.
In addition to being near the Space Needle in Seattle Center, the crash site is by the EMP Museum, the music and culture museum founded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.
Seattle Center is popular with tourists and locals, and is the site of many music and cultural festivals and sporting activities.
Other cities have experienced helicopter crashes as TV stations rush to cover the news from above major cities.
Two news helicopters collided in Phoenix in 2007 as the aircraft covered a police chase. All four people on board were killed in the crash, which sent fiery wreckage plummeting onto a park.
The helicopter involved in Tuesday’s crash was used in a joint partnership between KOMO-TV and KING-TV.
Seattle Fire Department spokesman Kyle Moore said the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration would be investigating the crash.