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NTSB team in Logan County to begin helicopter crash investigation

LOGAN, W.Va. — A five-member team of the National Transportation Safety Board arrived in Logan County Thursday afternoon to begin an investigation into the Huey helicopter crash that killed six people.

The helicopter went down at just before 5 p.m. Wednesday. It crashed on state Route 17 northeast of the Logan County Airport near Kelly Hollow.

Peter Knudson

NTSB Spokesman Peter Knudson said the team will be focusing the investigation on three areas.

“We look at the pilot, the helicopter and then we look into the operating environment and we do a deep dive into each one of those areas,” Knudson said.

The helicopter was believed to be part of this week’s Huey Reunion happening at the Logan County Airport sponsored by Marpat Aviation. The reunion offers tourist rides.

The Huey Reunion is in its 7th year.

The names of the victims have not been released.

According to the Federation Aviation Administration the tail number on the helicopter that crashed is registered to Gordon Prescott of Princeton. The helicopter was built in 1962.

There are unconfirmed reports that the helicopter may have clipped power lines as part of the crash. Knudson said that’s something the investigative team will look at.

“If there is any indication that the aircraft did strike the power lines–could that be the cause of the accident? Or could that been actually the result of the accident? These are things that we just don’t know at this point,” Knudson said.

Logan County Deputy Emergency Manager Sonja Porter said FAA and state police secured the scene Wednesday night awaiting the arrival of NTSB investigators.

Porter said the wreckage remains partially in the highway.

“It covers all the way across both lanes and over the guardrail and a little bit into a grassy area,” Porter said during a Thursday appearance on MetroNews “Talkline.”

A photo taken by some of the first on the scene showed the front part of the helicopter engulfed in flames and the tail section on the highway.

Porter said there are unconfirmed reports that at least two of the victims are from the local area.

“I can’t officially say that anybody any is local but from Facebook posts of our local residents they are reporting that their families were on it,” Porter said. “At this time that is not official and it will have to come from proper authorities.”

Other social media posts indicated the pilot may have grown up in West Virginia but currently lived out of state and would annually return for the Huey Reunion.

Knudson said the agency will have a preliminary investigative report posted within 15 days. A full investigation will take several months followed by a final report. It could take up to two years to arrive at a probable cause.

Knudson said he’s confident investigators will be able to determine what caused the crash.

“We have a pretty good record of being able to determine what were the events that led up to the accident along with any contributing factors,” Knudson said. “We won’t speculate. We will only go as far as the data takes us.”

West Virginia have issued statements in connection with the crash.

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin issued a statement Thursday morning:

“Gayle and I are devastated to hear of the deaths of six people killed in a horrific helicopter crash in Logan County. This is a heartbreaking time for the families, friends and loved ones of those in the crash, and I know our entire state feels this loss. We extend our deepest condolences to the families of the victims and my staff and I stand prepared to support the Logan County authorities, first responders and entire community during this time of need.”

U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito responded on social media.

“Devastating news out of Logan County last night. Praying for the family members of those involved and our first responders on the scene.”

Gov. Jim Justice was the first to respond Wednesday night.

“Cathy and I are praying for the families of those killed in this tragic helicopter crash.”

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