In a heart-wrenching incident that shatters the belief that helicopter travel is safer than cars, four individuals perished in a horrific helicopter crash in Alaska’s Brooks Range. On the face of it, a mechanical issue or pilot error in a car might leave you stranded on a highway, but the same mishap in a chopper typically results in a deadly plummet to the ground.
— The Independent (@Independent) July 25, 2023
As reported by The Associated Press on July 23rd, the grim discovery of three passengers and a pilot’s bodies followed the crash of a Bell Longranger 206L-3 into a shallow lake in Alaska’s North Slope. The fatal crash occurred on July 21st as the helicopter was transporting three scientists doing fieldwork for the Alaska Department of Natural Resources.
The North Slope Borough Police Department identified the deceased pilot as Bernard “Tony” Higdon, 48. The tragic list of passengers included Justin Germann, 27, Ronald Daanen, 51, both from Fairbanks, Alaska, and Tori Moore, 26, from South Bend, Indiana.
Search and rescue divers recovered the bodies of a helicopter pilot and three scientists from the sunken wreckage of their aircraft, which went down in a shallow lake on Alaska's remote North Slope, authorities say. https://t.co/9Ur5sO7VoE
— ABC News (@ABC) July 24, 2023
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating the cause of the crash. Clint Johnson, the head of the board’s Alaska region, however, warns that the difficulty in retrieving the wreckage could be a significant impediment. He expressed concerns that lifting the wreckage will require another helicopter – a commodity in short supply due to the rampant wildfires in the region.
Maritime Helicopters, the operator of the ill-fated 1969 chopper, extended heartfelt condolences to the victims’ family members. They mourned the loss of their “loved and respected pilot”, praising him as a “consummate professional” and skilled aviator. The company acknowledged that his absence would be deeply felt within the company and the community.
In the wake of this terrible tragedy, Maritime Helicopters pledged to cooperate closely with the NTSB in their quest for answers regarding the fatal crash. The company closed its remarks by extending gratitude to local search and rescue teams, the Red Cross, and other agencies for their crucial assistance.