Lake Mead Helicopter Cash That
Took Five Lives
By Jim Douglas
December 10, 2011 - On Wednesday evening, approximately
4:45 PM, a Eurocopter AS350B2, N37SH, owned by Sundance
Helicopters of Las Vegas crashed killing all five people
onboard. The Eurocopter went down in the River Mountains
bordering Lake Mead in a V-shaped canyon about 150 feet
deep, 16 miles east of Las Vegas.
Sundance Helicopters, Inc. a daily helicopter tour
operator was conducting a tour, 30-minute "Twilight City
Tour" of the Las Vegas Strip and Hoover Dam which is
located at Lake Mead, and is located near Boulder City,
Nevada. Onboard were the pilot, Landon Nield, 31, and
It?s unclear what caused this deadly crash. Sundance Helicopters CEO, Larry Pietropaolo, reported that the pilot did not make a distress call before a GPS monitoring the location of the helicopter went silent.
Pietropaolo further stated the pilot was hired three years ago,
a solid pilot and a very nice young man. Sundance reported the
company flew 167,182 passengers during the first 10 months of
this year, nearly 17,000 per month.
Due to the
terrain, emergency personnel were not able to reach the crash
site until Thursday, mid morning. The recovery efforts were
complicated by the remoteness of the rugged canyon and were only
accessible by helicopter and four-wheel-drive terrain vehicles.
On Friday the NTSB arrived at the crash site.
County Coroner Michael Murphy reported on Thursday night that
all five bodies had been recovered from the Lake Mead National
Recreation Area. "This was not an easy process," said Murphy.
Murphy further stated the bodies were not easily recognizable
and he could not release the names of the dead until medical
examiners made positive identification and that the process may
involve the use of DNA, fingerprint and dental records.
On the day of
the crash Nevada Senator Harry Reid stated ?My thoughts this morning are
with the families of the five people who died in a terrible crash
yesterday. Hundreds of
thousands of tourists enjoy these popular helicopter tours of Nevada
each year, and I?m saddened that people lost their lives in this rare
On the day of the crash Nevada Senator Harry Reid stated ?My thoughts this morning are with the families of the five people who died in a terrible crash yesterday. Hundreds of thousands of tourists enjoy these popular helicopter tours of Nevada each year, and I?m saddened that people lost their lives in this rare tragedy.
?I am grateful for
the efforts of National Park Service rangers, Metro Police?s Search and
Rescue and the Clark County and Henderson fire departments, who
responded to the scene. I
will continue to monitor the investigation being performed by the
Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board
and will do everything I can to ensure that helicopter tours remain
Transportation Safety Board member Mark Rosekind said on Friday "Up to
the last minute, it was all standard tour operating procedure. At the
last minute, things changed. We don't know Why?? Rosekind also stated
moments before the crash the pilot made a sudden climb and sharp turns.
The Eurocopter had been in for maintenance to replace the engine and
actuators in the tail and main rotor.
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