Report: Witnesses to fatal Duke Life Flight crash saw ‘smoke,’ heard ‘popping noise’


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Witnesses reported seeing smoke and hearing a “popping noise” before a Duke Life Flight helicopter crashed, killing four people on September 8, a preliminary report shows.

CLICK TO VIEW MORE PHOTOS OF THE CREW AND PATIENT MARY BARTLETT

The helicopter crashed around 11:45 a.m. after leaving Sentara Albemarle Medical Center, authorities said.

Four people — the pilot, two flight nurses and a patient — were on the helicopter when it crashed in a field on a wind turbine farm in Hertford, according to officials.

The three workers who died were flight nurses Kris Harrison, R.N. and Crystal Sollinger, R.N. and, the pilot, Jeff Burke, officials said.

The patient who died has been identified as Mary Bartlett.

news-app-download-apple-350x50news-app-download-android-350x50

According to a preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board, multiple witnesses reported seeing smoke trailing behind the helicopter while it was in flight.

The report states that witnesses described the smoke as “heavy” or “dark,” while others reported the color as “black,” “dark blue” or “blue.”

One witness reported that the helicopter was “hovering” and “not travelling forward” while it was a “couple of hundred feet” above the wind turbine farm. Another witness reported hearing a “popping noise.” The report states that he then observed the helicopter turn left, then right. It then descended quickly and appeared “in control” with the rotors turning before he lost sight of it.

The helicopter burst into flames upon crashing into the field, authorities said.

The NTSB report also shows that the helicopter was equipped with an on-board audio and video recording system.

According to the NTSB, the helicopter was thermally damaged, but the memory device survived the crash. The unit was sent to the NTSB vehicle recorder laboratory for examination.

The report reveals that a significant amount of the helicopter survived the crash intact. The helicopter was kept for examination by the NTSB.

The crash is still under investigation.

Click here to read the full preliminary report compiled by the NTSB.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s