Copter crash clues
NTSB set to release partial findings on crash of Pasadena police helicopters
By André Coleman 11/29/2012
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is set to release some of its findings in a preliminary investigation of a Nov. 17 crash between two Pasadena Police Department helicopters that left five police officers with minor injuries.
According to the city’s Web site, the federal safety board — which has been named the lead investigatory agency in the crash — will release Friday the results of its preliminary probe. In addition, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is investigating the incident. Officials with both agencies have already interviewed Pasadena Police Chief Philip Sanchez and Deputy Chief Darryl Qualls, according to Lt. Phlunte Riddle. The department has turned over surveillance video of the crash to the NTSB, according to Riddle.
Meanwhile, residents in one middle-class residential neighborhood frustrated by the copters hovering nearby in the middle of the night say they are now afraid the next crash could happen over their homes.
“The City Council has basically given the [Pasadena Police Department] carte blanche to use helicopters when and where they choose,” wrote Lorraine Montgomery in a letter to the Weekly. “It has gotten to the point where I often feel like I am living in a war zone. We have had enough and hope to work toward collecting signatures to put this issue to a ballot.”
The rotors of the two OH-58 aircrafts crashed into one another shortly after 4 p.m. Nov. 17 during landing maneuvers at the city’s heliport in Northwest Pasadena. One copter — the city has four helicopters — was taking off to perform neighborhood patrols. The other one was returning from patrols around the Rose Bowl during the annual USC-UCLA game.
Lt. Michael Ingram, Lt. Randell Taylor and Officers Carol Eldridge, Markus Mendenhall and Ryan Smith suffered minor cuts and bruises and were transported to Huntington Hospital in Pasadena. Eldridge and Mendenhall were the pilots of the two crafts.
A civilian contractor not identified by police was on board during the crash, which caused extensive damage to both vessels.
While the NTSB is expected to release preliminary findings Friday, the agency will only release its factual findings in one year. A final report will not be posted for three years, in accordance with the NTSB guidelines.