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Salt Lake City Helicopter Crash Likely Due To Rotor And Tail Separation

December 3, 2014 - The FAA and NTSB are investigating yesterdays helicopter crash near Salt Lake City, Utah in which the pilot and passenger were killed after the Robinson R44 Raven II, helicopter, N3234U, broke apart in mid air and then crashed into a building.

The Robinson R44 had departed from Skypark Airport, UT, the helicopter was being piloted by Clause Hauer who was a former helicopter pilot for KUTV. The onboard passenger has been identified as Bruce Orr. It is unclear if this was a training flight.

Witnesses report just before the crash around 2 PM, the Robinson R44 was showing signs of engine and mechanical problems just before it crashed into a vacant two story building.

Several witnesses reported they saw the tail rotor break off the helicopter in-flight. "I hear this helicopter flying right over me and then I hear this engine thrust really loud and then something exploded and a piece of the rudder came out of the helicopter. It flipped sideways and another explosion happened and shot the helicopter forward. There were parts everywhere coming down."

One witness said "It made a sound like it was breaking apart, like backfiring, then the tail shaft broke right off. It just went straight down. It looked like the guy was trying to get out, but I didn't think he had a chance." When the emergency responders got to the crash site they were able to pull one of the victims out of the building and offer CPR, however he did not survive.


Upon impact with the two story building the Robinson R44 burst into flames. The tail rotor and assembly fell to the ground about 200 yards from the crash site. The debris field covers about 400 to 500 yards from the crash site.



South Davis Metro Deputy Fire Chief Dave Powers said that man was pronounced dead at the scene (501 W. 900 North). The second man died inside the helicopter. He would have needed to be extricated to get out and that wasn't possible to do." North Salt Lake Police Chief Craig Black said the building was empty at the time and is up for rent.

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