March 4, 2024

Nationwide Information

A police automobile is parked on a highway resulting in the scene of a helicopter crash in Washington Township, N.J., Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2023. AP Photograph/Matt Rourke

WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) — Investigators have been on the lookout for proof Wednesday of what induced a information helicopter to crash within the New Jersey Pinelands the evening earlier than, killing the pilot and photographer on board.

Chopper 6 from WPVI-TV in Philadelphia was coming back from an task on the Jersey Shore when it went down Tuesday evening in a piece of Wharton State Forest in Washington Township, Burlington County, authorities mentioned.

The TV station mentioned the crash occurred round 8 p.m. The New Jersey State Park Police mentioned they have been notified of a helicopter that had gone lacking shortly earlier than 11 p.m.

Wednesday afternoon, the station recognized the pilot as 67-year-old Monroe Smith of Glenside, Pennsylvania, and the photographer as 45-year-old Christopher Dougherty of Oreland, Pennsylvania.

Throughout a stay report wherein she choked up with emotion, reporter Maggie Kent instructed of talking with colleagues of the crew members at Northeast Philadelphia Airport, the place the chopper was primarily based.

“They’re described as the perfect guys that you’d need to know, on the job for many years,” she mentioned. “They’re extremely expert in what they do. They liked their craft.”

Earlier within the day, reporter Katherine Scott spoke on air concerning the lack of her colleagues.

“Our hearts are simply damaged for these males,” she mentioned. “They’re damaged for his or her households. We simply can’t imagine this has occurred.”

The TV station mentioned the chopper took off from Northeast Philadelphia Airport earlier than 7:30 p.m. and the crew flew to an task close to Galloway Township, not removed from the Jersey Shore outdoors Atlantic Metropolis. Flight tracker information reveals the helicopter’s altitude dropping whereas returning to Philadelphia, and it was final airborne over Wharton State Forest.

A state trooper’s cruiser idled Wednesday close to the forested scene, the place paved roads flip to gravel and indicators suggested that motor autos have been restricted from getting into the realm close to the forest.

The location is a part of the New Jersey Pinelands, a million-acre wilderness space that stretches throughout greater than seven counties and options dense woods, rivers and uncommon plant species.

Video taken from a WTXF-TV helicopter over the wreckage website confirmed scattered particles, with some items on fireplace or smoking, as authorities searched with flashlights within the darkness.

The reason for the crash was not instantly clear. The Nationwide Transportation Security Board arrived on the crash website at 3:15 a.m. Wednesday and took management of the investigation.

An officer with the park police discovered the wreckage shortly after midnight, mentioned George Fedorczyk, chief of the division.

“Because of the distant location of the scene and the restricted visibility, it was decided at that time that the investigation could be suspended till someday after dawn,” he mentioned at a morning information convention Wednesday. “Know that our ideas are with the pilots, their households and the media group.”

WPVI-TV reported that it leases the helicopter from U.S. Helicopters Inc., which is predicated in North Carolina. A spokesperson mentioned firm officers weren’t ready to remark Wednesday morning.

Emails in search of remark have been despatched Wednesday to New Jersey State Police, the New Jersey State Park Police and the FAA.

There have been different lethal helicopter crashes involving employees from tv stations in the USA. Amongst them was a July 2007 crash, when two helicopters from KNXV-TV and KTVK-TV collided over Phoenix whereas overlaying a police chase. 4 folks — each pilots and two photographers — have been killed.

In November, a pilot and a meteorologist who labored for a North Carolina tv station died when a information helicopter crashed alongside a Charlotte-area interstate, with police praising the pilot for heroically avoiding the highway in his ultimate moments.