This post is from staff reporter Mike Baker
Federal investigators began the process Wednesday of deconstructing a Seattle news helicopter that tumbled to the ground during takeoff in a fiery, fatal crash on Tuesday.
Dennis Hogenson, an official with the National Transportation Safety Board, said crews were still considering all scenarios in the crash, which left a pilot and photojournalist dead. The investigation includes reviewing maintenance records, collecting video from the Seattle Police Department, interviewing construction-crane operators in the area and deconstructing the helicopter and its engine.
Complicating the process is the massive damage to the aircraft, which burst into flames when it fell onto Broad Street across from the roof-top KOMO TV helipad at Fisher Plaza.
“A lot of those parts and pieces are simply gone,” Hogenson said.
Hogenson said the pilot of the helicopter had approximately 900 hours of experience in the model that crashed and some 7,700 hours of flight time overall. The last significant maintenance inspection occurred in January, and there were no outstanding maintenance items and no reports of problems when the pilot returned from a flight earlier Tuesday morning.
Killed in the crash were pilot Gary Pfitzner, 59, of Issaquah, and photographer Bill Strothman, 62, of Bothell, both of whom were working for the television station under contract.
Richard Newman, the 38-year-old Seattle man who was seriously injured when the helicopter fell on his car, is “improving, conscious and breathing on his own” today, according to officials at Harborview Medical Center.