Further Information Regarding TV News Helicopter Crash
Two people were killed as a result of a Seattle TV news helicopter crashing on Tuesday morning, while one person is listed in critical condition. The victims in the helicopter were identified as pilot Gary Pfitzner and photographer Bill Strothman, who were working for the helicopter leasing company. Pfitzner and Strothman were found dead when the firefighters arrived at the scene only yards away from the Space Needle. The injured person was rushed to a local hospital and is reported having burns on up to 20% of his body.
Witnesses report hearing an odd "whining" sound as the helicopter took off after refueling. The refueling session lasted less than 30 minutes and the 11-year-old Eurocopter AS350 was taking off to Renton, Washington. After liftoff, the helicopter began to rotate counter-clockwise before sinking to the ground and bursting into flames. Helicopters Inc., which is based in St. Louis and owns the helicopter involved, stated the helicopter may have struck a crane almost immediately after takeoff, but this has yet to be confirmed.
Seattle police are still calling the scene "active," as investigations are said to continue for many hours. The Space Needle closed shortly after the accident out of respect for those involved. KIRO TV, another Seattle-based TV station, has grounded its helicopter just in case another event related to this morning's crash should happen again. A preliminary report should be available within five days although a cause may not be determined by then.