California aviation accident news: Update: Unmarked power lines caused Sierra helicopter crash

Legal news for California aviation accident attorneys. Unmarked power lines and failure of wire-cutting device prompted crash.

Federal Aviation Administration alerts- The fatal helicopter crash in the Sierra National Forest was caused by unmarked power lines.

Madera, CA—Federal investigators with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) stated that power lines in the area where a helicopter crashed, which was carrying two California Department of Fish and Game biologist in the Sierra National Forest foothills, were not marked. The fatal helicopter crashed on Tuesday, January 5, 2009, killing all four occupants, as reported by the Sacramento Bee.

The fatal helicopter crash killed state biologists 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 were conducting a routine aerial mission in the steep to study the feeding habits of deer herds, when the helicopter struck a power line and fell to the ground, erupting into a massive blaze. All four victims are believed to have died on impact.

According to the FAA, “there are no laws requiring that power lines be marked, but the agency recommends that wires be marked if they could be a hazard to an aircraft.” Southern California Edison, who owns the power lines involved in the fatal crash, released a statement saying, “The company had not marked those power lines because no one had ever asked them to do so.” The 1979 Bell 206B turbine engine helicopter was reportedly fully equipped with a wire-cutting device, which is designed to prevent accidents like this. In some instances, the wire cutting equipment will not work if the helicopter hits the power line at an angle. The fatal crash is still under investigation.

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