California aviation accident – Biologists and pilot killed in Sierra National Forest helicopter crash

Legal news for California aviation accident attorneys. A helicopter crashed during a routine mission, killing all four occupants.

A helicopter crash involving a Bell 206 helicopter crashed into the Sierra National Forest, killing two state scientists.

Madera, CA—A helicopter that apparently got tangled in a power line crashed in a narrow canyon in the Sierra National Forest, killing all four of its occupants. Three California Department of Fish and Game biologists and the pilot died on Tuesday, January 5, 2010 while surveying wildlife, as reported by Fox News.

According to Madera County officials, the Bell 206 helicopter went down in a narrow canyon near Redinger Lake, when the helicopter hit a power line, which sparked a fire. The crash sent debris scattered across a quarter-mile of brush, and ignited a blaze so intense that rescue teams couldn’t access the scene for several hours. The crash killed two state scientists identified as, Clu Cotter, 48, and Kevin O’Connor, 40, both from Fresno; their aide, Tom Stolberg, 31, of Fresno; and the pilot, Dennis Donovan. The scientists, who have been working for the state over many years, were conducting a routine aerial mission in the steep to study the feeding habits of deer herds. The steep is a wooded area near the Fresno and Madera County boarders. Fire crews were able to extinguish the roaring blaze, and recovered the bodies of the victims by late afternoon. Police officials and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are conducting full investigations into the tragic helicopter crash.

Legal News Reporter: Nicole Howley-Legal news for California aviation accident lawyers.