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  • Arizona Helicopter Crash Kills 2

    2 Die in Ariz. Copter Crash Near Wildfire

    By ANABELLE GARAY
    Associated Press Writer

    PHOENIX (AP) -- A helicopter dropping off a crew of elite firefighters crashed Saturday morning, killing two people and seriously injuring two other crew members, officials said.

    The identities of the two who died were not immediately known, but one was the pilot, said Mike Todd, a spokesman for Native Air Ambulance. Two crew members were transported to hospitals.

    The contract helicopter was taking a crew from the Bureau of Indian Affairs to begin an initial attack on a fire in the Aspen Ridge area, said Margo Whitt, a fire information officer. Four people were on board when the helicopter crashed about 175 miles northeast of Phoenix.
    Buckle Up, Slow Down, Arrive Alive
    "Everybody Goes Home"

    IACOJ 2003

  • #2
    PHOENIX (AP) - Authorities identified the four crew members
    aboard a helicopter that crashed while investigating a fire,
    killing one firefighter and the pilot.
    Pilot Jess Pearce, 50, of Peoria, and firefighter Randall Bonito
    Jr., 32, of Whiteriver, were killed, said Eric Neitzel, a fire
    information officer with the U.S. Forest Service.
    Firefighters Kristy Johnson, 30, of Cibecue, and Floyd Walker,
    37, of the Seven Mile community, were injured in the crash, Neitzel
    said.
    Johnson was listed in fair condition at St. Joseph's Hospital.
    Walker was in stable condition at the same facility Sunday.
    All three firefighters were members of the White Mountain Apache
    Tribe and part of a Helitack crew investigating reports of smoke in
    the Aspen Ridge area, Neitzel said. Bonito and Walker worked for
    the Bureau of Indian Affairs while Johnson was employed by the
    tribe.
    Pearce was flying the Bell 206 L3 helicopter, owned by Air West
    Helicopter of Phoenix, when the contract aircraft crashed about
    10:30 a.m. Saturday. The bureau has contracted with Air West for
    several years, said Margo Whitt, a fire information officer.
    It went down south of Hawley Lake in a remote, heavily wooded
    area with steep and rugged terrain. The site was about 17 miles
    east of Whiteriver on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation and 175
    miles northeast of Phoenix.
    A forester alerted authorities to the crash and the small fire
    spotted in the area was later extinguished, Neitzel said.
    Officials with the National Transportation Safety Board arrived
    Saturday and continued investigating the crash Sunday, he said.
    At the fire's command center, a crisis management team was on
    site to counsel firefighters and other support personnel.
    "It's pretty brutal," Neitzel said. "A lot of people have
    taken the day off."
    A month ago, White Mountain Apache Tribe fire manager Rick Lupe
    died after becoming trapped during a prescribed burn.
    Last summer, an airtanker fighting a wildfire for the Forest
    Service crashed near Walker, Calif. It took three crew members to
    their deaths.
    The C-130A cargo plane was released from Davis-Monthan Air Force
    Base in Tucson. It was given to a firefighting contractor that had
    the dangerous mission of dropping retardant on wildfires in rough,
    inaccessible terrain.


    (Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
    Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
    Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones

    *Gathering Crust Since 1968*
    On the web at www.section2wildfire.com

    Comment


    • #3
      PHOENIX (AP) - This weekend's deadly helicopter crash on the
      Fort Apache Indian Reservation marked another loss for Arizona's
      Apache community.
      A helicopter carrying three firefighters who were members of the
      White Mountain Apache Tribe fell from the sky Saturday as the team
      was investigating reports of smoke in the Aspen Ridge area.
      Just last month, White Mountain Apache Tribe fire manager Rick
      Lupe died from injuries he suffered while doing a prescribed burn.
      "It's a tremendous loss for Fort Apache this soon after losing
      Rick," said Wendell Peacock, spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Land
      Management. "It's a dangerous business we're in."
      Firefighter Randall Bonito Jr., 32, of Whiteriver was killed
      along with the helicopter's pilot Jess Pearce, 50, who lived in the
      Phoenix area.
      Firefighters Kristy Johnson, 30, of Cibecue and Floyd Walker,
      37, of the Seven Mile community were seriously injured in the
      crash.
      Both were recovering at St. Joseph's Hospital in Phoenix. Walker
      remains in intensive care with broken bones. Johnson was moved to a
      private room, said fire information officer Margo Whitt.
      "We're encouraged," she said. "Both are starting their road
      to recovery."
      Bonito and Walker worked for the Bureau of Indian Affairs while
      Johnson was employed by the tribe, said Eric Neitzel, a fire
      information officer with the U.S. Forest Service.
      Gov. Janet Napolitano extended her condolences Monday to the
      families of Bonito and Pearce.
      "We are greatly saddened by the death of these two individuals
      and are concerned about the pair recovering from their injuries,"
      Napolitano said.
      "In particular, my condolences go out to the White Mountain
      Apache Tribe, which is mourning the loss of its second firefighter
      in as many months."
      Lupe, 43, had been hospitalized for more than a month after he
      suffered third-degree burns over 40 percent of his body during a
      May 14 prescribed burn operation near Whiteriver.
      He was doing fire mop up and putting out hotspots when winds
      kicked up and engulfed Lupe in flames. He used his fire shelter but
      it got away from him, Peacock said.
      Lupe's death was the first wildfire fatality in Arizona since
      1990, when six died fighting the Dude fire, Peacock said.
      The crew in Saturday's crash was part of a team of first
      responders sent to start initial attacks on fires in remote and
      inaccessible locations.
      The helicopter went down south of Hawley Lake in a remote,
      heavily wooded area with steep terrain. The site was about 17 miles
      east of Whiteriver on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation and 175
      miles northeast of Phoenix.
      Neitzel said firefighters located and extinguish the small fire.
      National Transportation Safety Board officials arrived Saturday
      and continued investigating the crash. Officials with the agency
      did not return calls Monday.
      A crisis management team was on site Sunday to counsel crews
      fighting another blaze on the reservation, the 24,500-acre
      Kinishiba fire.
      "It's pretty brutal," he said Sunday. "A lot of people have
      taken the day off."
      ---
      On the Net:
      White Mountain Apache Tribe: http://www.wmat.nsn.us/
      National Interagency Fire Center: http://www.nifc.gov/

      (Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
      Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
      Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones

      *Gathering Crust Since 1968*
      On the web at www.section2wildfire.com

      Comment

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