ERA Helicopters Sheep Mountain Helicopter Crash–4 Killed, Boy Survives

An ERA Helicopters Eurocopter Arrow Star 350 B2 helicopter crashed in heavy weather conditions near Sheep Mountain on April 15, 2008, killing four people, and seriously injuring a 14-year-old boy. Killed in the crash were the pilot, Benoit Pin, and three employees of the Alaska Department of Administration, Michael D. Seward, Thomas E.Middleton, and Joseph C. O’Donnell. The flight was en route to a state telecommunications tower near Tahneta Pass when the crash occurred. The 14-year-old boy, Quinn Ellington, was found alive on Wednesday morning. Weather hampered the search for the craft, whose emergency locator transmitter went off on Tuesday at 1625 hours. An HC-130 and pararescue personnel on snow machines searched through the night until the crash site was located Wednesday morning approximately 120 miles northeast of Anchorage.

The NTSB is investigating the crash. The circumstances are similar to another crash of an ERA Aviation helicopter near Fire Island in October 2001, which occurred in heavy snow conditions. (Richard Vollertsen, of the Alaska Personal Injury Law Group, was lead counsel in that crash investigation: www.alaskainjurylawgroup.com/lawyer-attorney-1286823.html) The weather at the time of the Sheep Mountain crash included snow, rain and fog, and rescuers called it “blizzard conditions.” State of Alaska personnel have not yet explained why Ellington, Michael Seward’s stepson, was a passenger on a flight where state personnnel were performing maintenance on a transmission tower. The pilot, Benoit Pin, obtained his commercial helicopter license in 2001.

Source:
Federal Aviation Administration:
www.faa.gov/data_statistics/accident_incident/preliminary_data/media/K_0417_N.txt

Eurocopter Arrow Star 350:
www.eurocopterusa.com/Product/as350/as350.asp

Alaska State Troopers:
www.dps.state.ak.us/pio/dispatch/Trooper%20Dispatches%20of%2004-17-2008.20080417.txt

Anchorage Daily News:
www.adn.com