The NTSB has launched an investigation into today's deadly collision between an Amtrak train and a semi-truck on Highway 95 near the I-80 Trinity exit.
Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Dan Lopez says five or six people were killed in the 11:30am accident on U.S. Highway 95 about 70 miles east of Reno. The California Zephyr was en route 2,400 miles from Chicago to Emeryville, California.
Amtrak officials say there were about 204 passengers on the train and 14 crew members. It was Train 5, the westbound California Zephyr, heading from Chicago to Emeryville.
Nevada Highway Patrol told FOX40 witnesses told them the train’s crossing lights were working at the time of the collision. The semi collided with the 4th car of the train. The semi was empty at the time, and there was just the driver inside the cab.
State police First Sgt. Scott VanLear said the AirCare 5 helicopter was returning from the University of Virginia Medical Center when the crash occurred. No patient was on board, as initially reported by authorities, he said.
VanLear said he did not know where the airplane was coming from or its destination.
Two people were killed this afternoon after a midair collision between a small airplane and a helicopter in Weyers Cave near Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport, authorities said.
The crash between a Cessna 172 and a medical transport helicopter happened at about 2:30 p.m. over the 800 block of Route 256 (Weyers Cave Road), a half-mile north of the airport, said Jim Peters with the Federal Aviation Administration.
Joshua Becker was on his way to visit family near Shenandoah Regional Airport when he saw the small plane and medical helicopter headed toward each other. Becker said he stopped the car, and watched as the plane grazed the top of the helicopter. Immediately after, the plane took a nose-dive to the ground and crashed.
Becker said the helicopter was able to land in the field in the 800 block of Weyers Cave Road. Becker said he thought there were one, maybe two people in the plane.
The 2008 crash of an overloaded Oregon-based helicopter, which killed nine firefighters, was the result of a cascade of failures by virtually everyone involved in assuring a safe flight, the National Transportation Safety Board said Tuesday as it presented findings into the accident.
NTSB member Robert Sumwalt pointed to false weight documents by the helicopter’s owner, Carson Helicopters of Grant Pass, and a lack of government oversight to catch the mistake.
The problem was compounded by pilots who failed to account for the helicopter operating at the limit of its performance, NTSB Chairwoman Deborah A.P. Hersman said at the start of a day-long hearing that exposed serious shortcomings — even negligence — in meeting standards set to ensure safe operation.
The U.S. Forest Service, which hired Carson to help fight a wild fire in California, and the Federal Aviation Administration also failed to adequately review and monitor Carson and ensure safe operation,
A Charlottesville pilot died Tuesday after his single-engine plane crashed into a UPS Freight building and burst into flames near Roanoke Regional Airport.
Peter Sheeran, 59, died at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital, spokeswoman Allison Buth said. Sheeran was taken there with passenger John Whitmer, who was listed in serious condition, Buth said.
No other injuries were reported.
Photo by Brian Turner.
Sheeran’s plane, which took off at 1 p.m., hit power lines and crashed into a corner of the building, said Jennifer Conley Sexton, a spokeswoman for the Roanoke County Fire Department.
The National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration are investigating. A preliminary report is expected in about 10 business days, NTSB spokeswoman Bridget Serchak said in an e-mail.
The 1985 Piper PA-46 is owned by Aviation Development Group Inc. of Charlottesville, according to FAA records. Government records list Sheeran as president of that company and of Sheeran Architects. The businesses share an address in Charlottesville.
A small cargo jet from Waterford-based Royal Air Freight crashed into a forest preserve Tuesday afternoon shortly after being cleared to land at a suburban Chicago airport, with officials saying that it appears the two people aboard were killed.
A preliminary investigation indicated a pilot and co-pilot were aboard the jet that crashed into the Des Plaines River in unincorporated Glenview as it was making its final approach about 1:30 p.m. to Chicago Executive Airport in Wheeling, said Glenview Fire Department Battalion Chief Jim Fancher. He said emergency crews were on the scene, including divers.
The Federal Aviation Administration, at the scene of the crumpled wreckage, said it was unclear what caused the crash, noting the jet had just been cleared for visual approach to the airport.
The Learjet Model 35 left Oakland County International Airport in Waterford, Mich., about 1 p.m. Tuesday, said J. David Vanderveen, who oversees the county’s three airports. Oakland County International Airport is about 25 miles northwest of Detroit.
Vanderveen said the jet was empty of cargo, but was to pick up freight at the Wheeling airport, located about 15 miles northwest of Chicago.
“There was a pilot and a co-pilot,” Vanderveen said. “Both were commercially rated, which means they were professional pilots. My understanding is they were clear to land and landed short, and crashed into the DesPlaines River.”
The jet, according to the FAA, was registered to the Waterford-based Royal Air Freight. A woman who answered the phone at the company declined to comment on the crash.
Three crew members died when a medical helicopter crashed northwest of Reno in California’s Lassen County around 2 a.m. today.
The Mountain Lifeflight helicopter 3 had dropped off a patient in Reno and was returning to Susanville at the time of the crash, the Federal Aviation Administration reported.
Google map of crash site.
The crash was on the west side of U.S. 395 between Hallelujah Junction and the north loop of the Red Rock Road intersection with U.S. 395.
The helicopter is an Aerospatiale AS350 and it was destroyed by the crash impact and the fire, the FAA reported. The pilot was not communicating with air traffic controllers at the time of the accident, the FAA said. FAA and NTSB investigators were headed to the scene.
Mountain Lifeflight issued a brief statement confirming three crew members were lost and said more information would be released when it was made available.
It was a Mountain Lifeflight 3 helicopter that crashed in March 2002 after dropping off a patient in Reno, killing the pilot.
The helicopter with three on board had just passed over Honey Lake with pilot Raymond Watson at the controls.
Nurse Gary Zahniser recalled in a 2002 interview that he sat chatting with flight paramedic Chuck Jerpeon and then the next thing he remember, Zahniser was underwater, struggling to get his seat belt off so he could swim to the surface.
“It happened so fast,” Zahniser, said then. . “It’s like you’re in a dream, and it’s surreal.”
“We were flying over Honey Lake and both just kind of chitchatting, and then the next thing I knew I was underwater,” Zahniser said.
Two people were killed — including one person on the ground — when a Cessna 310 crashed into a home in the 2300 block of Walker Drive in Gwinnett County Friday afternoon.
Homes around the crash site were evacuated shortly after the crash, which happened just after 1 p.m. The crash caused a fire which gutted the house.
Picture shortly after crash provided to WXIA-TV by Arthur Gray.
Two people were killed in the crash — one was a woman inside the home, and the second was the pilot of the plane.
“Right now it appears that we have two fatalities, one inside the house and the pilot on board the plane,” said Captain Tommy Rutledge of the Gwinnett County Fire Department.
The woman was inside the home with her husband when the crash happened — he was able to escape uninjured.
NTSB investigator Butch Wilson said the plane shattered on impact. Investigators said they may never be able to determine what happened.
“There’s not really much left of the house or the airplane,” Wilson said. “Most of it has been consumed in the fire. What we do have left, we will examine.”
A neighbor said that he was at home working on his computer when he heard a low-flying airplane, followed by a crash that blew his windows out. He said he dived under his desk, and when he came out, he saw that his neighbor’s house was up in flames.
The twin-engine plane had just taken off from Briscoe Field, apparently loaded with fuel. The plane was en route to Sparta, Tenn., when the crash happened. Air traffic controllers got no word of trouble prior to the crash.
“They were in transition to the Atlanta radio tower, the airport tower. They, according to Gwinnett’s Airport tower, did not make contact with the Atlanta tower and there was no distress signal that was given to the Gwinnett tower from the plane,” Rutledge said.
Neighbors who heard and felt the explosion were stunned with not only the loss of life, but the realization that the plane could have hit anyone’s home.
We finally know the most-likely cause of that horrible crash of a Maryland State Police helicopter.
The pilot, two medics, and an accident victim died a year ago –and just one teenager survived.
The National Transportation Safety Board is blaming pilot Stephen Bunker, who unexpectedly flew into a dense cloud bank, and then tried desperately to get below it.
He was looking so frantically for the ground that he ignored an altimeter that might have warned him he was about to crash into it.
But the Board also says a whole series of other mistakes by air traffic controllers contributed to the crisis.
“I wear the bracelet with everyone’s name on it,” says Jordan Wells, who was the only survivor. She’ll never forget the crash that killed her friend Ashley and three other people trying to rush the teens to a hospital.
“The look on Lippy’s face, then I heard something brush against the helicopter,” says Wells. “Then I blacked out because I broke this side of my face.”
Wells came to the NTSB hearing, hoping the long investigation will help save other lives.
“You can only hope,” she says. “You can only pray that it will fix things and make them better.”
“The probable cause of this accident was the pilots attempt to regain visual conditions by performing a rapid descent,” the NTSB’s David Mayer told the board.
It was a miserable night, and the pilot briefly considered refusing the mission. But based in part on five hour old weather data, he decided to go anyway. And that bad data was just one of the “numerous procedural deficiencies” the NTSB blamed on air traffic controllers, “…including unresponsiveness, inattention, and poor radar vectoring,” said Mayer.
Bunker had almost three decades of experience, but it had been a long time since he’d practiced an instrument landing.
And when he suddenly flew into heavy fog, he failed to follow procedures.
The NTSB is recommending that all public air ambulances be regulated just like commercial aircraft. It’s also pushing for formal risk assessments on every flight, and for new technology like night vision goggles and terrain awareness warning systems.
“We want to make sure when they’re going to save a life, they don’t lose their life, or risk other lives,” says chair Deborah Hersman.
The NTSB also criticized the Maryland State Police for its performance after the crash. It took some time for the agency to even realize the chopper had gone down — and then an hour or so to find it. If not for the heroic efforts of a couple of troopers, it might have taken hours longer to discover the crash scene — even though it was right on an electronic map at Syscom, but just hard to read.
The Maryland State Police says it has already corrected many of the problems, and is working on others. And the NTSB praised the agency for its cooperation.
Below are NTSB finding that deal directly with the search for the downed helicopter:
20. Had two Maryland State Police aviation employees not pursued their own search effort, locating the accident site would likely have taken several more hours than it did.
21. The incident commander’s lack of aviation knowledge diminished the effectiveness of search and rescue activities.
22. Maryland State Police troopers and System Communications Center personnel were insufficiently equipped and trained to conduct a search involving global positioning system coordinates, and this hindered their ability to locate the site of the wreckage.
23. Neither Prince George’s County nor Maryland State Police dispatchers fully understood the importance of obtaining distance and bearing information, as well as the cell tower location, before releasing a location obtained from cell phone ‘pinging;’ this lack of understanding led dispatchers to provide the cell phone tower’s simple street address without context to all units involved in the search. This distracted and confused units already searching a more likely location.
24. The Federal Aviation Administration air traffic control’s inability to produce timely location data also hampered search and rescue efforts.
25. Knowledge of the disjointed search and rescue efforts and the techniques eventually employed to locate the accident site could provide valuable lessons to agencies, such as Helicopter Emergency Medical Services dispatch centers, 911 dispatch centers, and fire, police, and sheriff’s departments, involved in search and rescue efforts.
While the circumstances are very different, a lot of people in Washington were reminded yesterday of the crash of Air Florida Flight 90 into the icy Potomac River. Tuesday was the 27th anniversary of that tragedy. Seventy-eight people, including four who were in their vehicles on the inbound 14th Street Bridge, died in that accident in the middle of a snow storm at 4:01 PM on January 13, 1982.
While the crash into the Hudson was a ditching of a commercial jet by a skilled crew after an apparent catastrophic engine failure (possibly due to a bird strike), the Potomac crash was blamed on the actions of the crew. Among the most significant findings by the NTSB were that the Flight 90 pilot and co-pilot failed to have the anti-icing system turned on prior to take off. This resulted in a sensor icing over and in turn providing high false thrust indicator readings. The jet took off with inadequate power to stay airborne. It crashed just north of National Airport.
Five people were plucked from the icy Potomac by the US Park Police Eagle helicopter crew of Donald Usher and Gene Windsor. The video above, from a story I did for Channel 9 in 1992, was shot by photographer Bruce Bookholtz. My friend Bruce is retiring at the end of this week. Bruce also had been at National Airport before the crash doing a story on the snow storm with reporter John Goldsmith. It turned out they had shot video of Flight 90 at the gate.
One story that wasn’t publicly known until I reported it on the 20th anniversary, is that the actions of another US Park Police pilot possibly saved the day. In 1982, US Park Police did not supply a snow plow for the hanger in Anacostia Park. Pilot Ron Galey took the call about the crash. As Usher and Windsor got the chopper ready. Galey jumped into his own snow plow equipped pickup truck and cleared a path for the helicopter’s take off. Without that effort, the helicopter may have arrived too late for the rescues.
There were a number of heroes that day. This includes Arland Williams, believed to be the sixth passenger who survived the initial impact. The other survivors say Williams repeatedly passed the life ring from the helicopter to his fellow survivors. Williams drowned by the time the helicopter came back for him. The inbound 14th Street span is now named for Arland Williams.
The other story from that day that has always touched me is of Roger Olian. Olian was then a sheet metal worker on the way home from his job at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital. Olian saw the survivors flailing in the frigid waters before any rescuers arrived. Feeling he had to do something, Olian jumped in and swam toward the middle of the river. While he didn’t save anyone, the survivors all cited Olian’s act as giving them hope they soon would be rescued.
Olian’s actions were somewhat overshadowed by Lenny Skutnik who also jumped into the river. Skutnik grabbed survivor Priscilla Tirado who had been brought close to the shore by the helicopter, but couldn’t make it in on her own. Skutnik was recognized later that month during President Ronald Reagan’s State of the Union address. It began the tradition of honoring heroes during the event. Anyone willing to bet that US Airways Pilot Chesley Sullenberger will be honored at President Barack Obama’s first State of the Union address?
The Air Florida accident had a significant impact on regional cooperation among the fire departments in the Washington, DC area. There was much criticism about the lack of coordination between Virginia and DC emergency crews.
Within a half-hour of the crash into the Potomac, the area’s subway system, Metrorail, suffered its first fatal accident. It happened just north of the 14th street bridge in a tunnel south of the Federal Triangle station. Three people were killed and 25 were injured.
Below is part 1 of Seconds from Disaster, a National Geographic documentary on the crash of Flight 90 and the errors made in the cockpit. Click here for the other parts.
The emergency landing of United Flight 232 in Iowa on July 19, 1989 is often cited as one of the best examples of how crew resource management should be done. Pilot Al Haynes and his crew (including an off-duty pilot on board who offered a hand) were hailed as heroes in doing what might have seemed impossible in landing a severely crippled jet, saving the lives of 185 of the 285 people on board. Will Flight 1549 Pilot Sullenberger and his crew now be the ones used for the textbook example of excellent crew resource management?