Two individuals were killed in Seattle on Tuesday morning after a news helicopter went down on Broad Street near the Space Needle. The chopper was owned by KOMO News, an affiliate of ABC News. Early reports from the station state the helicopter struck a building just after liftoff and careened into the street below during morning rush hour. Several cars were struck and burst into flames along with the helicopter.
The accident occurred just 50 feet away from the city's iconic Space Needle, sending black clouds of smoke into the air above the city. First responders from the Seattle Fire Department reported two fatalities and one serious injury—a 37 year-old man who extricated himself from an impacted vehicle and was immediately transported to Harborview Medical Center. Authorities report that he is in critical condition. So far, no other injuries related to the crash have been reported.
Firefighters put out the flames within an hour and proceeded to clean up the spilled fuel. Three cars were burned in addition to the chopper, of which only the tail could be identified. The cause of the crash is still unknown, according to authorities from the Seattle Fire Department, but an investigation has been initiated by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
News helicopter crashes can occur when TV stations pressure reporters and pilots to cover local news events quickly and they fail to exercise due caution in the process. A collision between two news helicopters in Phoenix, Arizona in 2007 caused the death of both pilots and two cameramen. After investigating this crash, the NTSB published new safety recommendations for news aircraft, including high-visibility lights and paint, advanced traffic tracking devices for pilots, split duties between reporters and pilots, and a focus on increased safety air traffic measures for local TV stations.