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Federal report says fog, low altitude were factors in deadly helicopter crash on I-10

10 months 3 weeks 5 days ago Wednesday, January 05 2022 Jan 5, 2022 January 05, 2022 4:03 PM January 05, 2022 in News
Source: WBRZ

LAPLACE - A newly released report on a deadly helicopter crash on the Bonnet Carre Spillway suggests foggy conditions paired with the aircraft's low altitude caused it to collide with power lines and then plummet to the highway below.

The preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board on the Dec. 14 crash  said the helicopter was heading to the Lakefront Airport in New Orleans from Gonzales when it collided with the guy wires over I-10. 

The report revealed the aircraft was flying at an altitude of about 75 feet above ground level when it struck the wires and that "low level fog allowed the stanchions of the power lines to be barely visible from the east."

Click here to read the full report

Video captured the helicopter falling to the interstate in pieces. An excerpt from the report can be found below.

The helicopter collided with the western guy wire suspended between two tall trusses. The guy wire was estimated about 130 ft above the bridge. Several commercial vehicles dash cameras captured the helicopter’s descent and impact with terrain. Video showed that the helicopter’s main rotor blades, mast, and transmission separated from the fuselage and were located in Lake Pontchartrain. A post impact fire ensued which consumed most of the fuselage. No video showing the helicopter’s collision with the transmission line has been recovered.

Following the accident, a United States Coast Guard helicopter was launched to the scene to
provide search and rescue support. The USCG pilot reported that the weather was visual flight rules (VFR) at Louis Armstrong International Airport (KMSY), New Orleans, Louisiana, but deteriorated to marginal VFR to instrument flight conditions to the west. Low level fog allowed the stanchions of the power lines to be barely visible from the east. However, from the west, the fog layer was above the power lines with high cloud layers that reached about 1,200 ft. From a top-down view, there was very dense fog from all areas with a tall column of clouds to the west of the power line intersection where the accident occurred. They were able to orbit overhead  with good visibility at 500 ft over the shoreline, but at landfall to the west, a wall of clouds built to 1,200 ft.

The pilot killed in the crash, Joshua Hawley, was a former first responder from the Baton Rouge area. More recently, Hawley flew helicopters for a Baton Rouge-based industrial construction company.

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