by: Rick Price Updated:SEDRO-WOOLLEY, Wash. —
Federal investigators Friday were set to begin looking for answers in the Thursday night crash of a light helicopter into a farm field near Sedro Woolley.
A KIRO Eyewitness News 7 crew spotted the two-seat Robinson R-22 very early Friday morning, lying on its side about 50 yards from Prairie Road, near Highway 9. The skin was rippled, the tail boom appeared to be bent to one side, and there was other damage.
The Federal Aviation Administration’s Allen Kenitzer said the chopper had just left the area for Boeing Field, but then descended, hit a tree, then hit the ground and rolled on its side about 9:30 p.m. Thursday.
A neighbor told KIRO 7 he heard the helicopter hit saw the pilot with a cut on his head. He added that a female passenger did not appear to be badly hurt.
A Skagit County sheriff’s deputy who came by the crash site briefly Friday morning said that there was some fog in the area at the time of the accident.
When the KIRO 7 crew arrived around 2 a.m. Friday, they had just a few minutes to get their pictures before the fog closed in. For hours afterward, the wreckage was not visible from the road because of the fog.
Very few examples of this helicopter type are equipped for instrument flight, though whether this one was is not yet clear. Flying in fog or clouds without the proper instruments and training can disorient a pilot, resulting in an in-flight upset or collision with terrain. However, the investigation is just beginning and the National Transportation Safety Board will determine the probable cause. That finding is likely months away. The NTSB and the FAA are both investigating this accident.
According to FAA records, the helicopter registration comes back to a Maple Valley address.