A helicopter crashed in a southern Louisiana marsh resulting in eight people being killed. They were bound for an offshore oil platform being killed. The helicopter, operated by PHI Inc., crashed on January 4th shortly after taking off. Two pilots and seven passengers were aboard when the helicopter went down in rural Terrebonne Parish, about 100 miles southwest of New Orleans. The passengers worked for two Shell Oil Co. contractors. The helicopter was enroute to the company’s Gulf of Mexico platform. One of the passengers was injured, but survived and was in critical condition at press time.
Ted Lopatkiewicz, spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board, says the helicopter is believed to have crashed about seven minutes after it took off at 3:02 p.m. EDT. According to reports, there were scattered clouds and visibility was ten miles at the time of the crash. A short time after the crash, the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center in Panama City, Florida, received an electronic distress signal from the helicopter with the aircraft’s tail number and GPS coordinates. The Center contacted PHI, which confirmed it couldn’t locate the chopper.
The helicopter, a Sikorsky S-76C, would have had a voice recorder aboard and hopefully a flight data recorder. NTSB investigators and local authorities should be able to locate the recorder and other material from the crash. An NTSB investigator has gone to PHI’s offices to go through maintenance and crew records. Lafayette-based PHI is a primary provider of helicopter services to oil and gas platforms off the coast of Louisiana. It also flies medical helicopters. Workers typically are flown to and from their worksites from coastal flight bases.
In June, a PHI Air Medical helicopter crashed in Texas, killing four people. The accident in the Sam Houston National Forest killed the pilot, paramedic, nurse and a patient who was being transported from Huntsville to Houston. That crew agreed to transport the patient after another helicopter company abandoned the mission, saying cloud cover was too low, making visibility poor in the early morning darkness. Our firm has already been hired by the family of one of the men who was killed in the crash and a wrongful death suit will be filed. We are currently discussing the potential representation with a second family.
Source: Associated Press
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