LAS VEGAS, N.M. (KRQE) – The Nationa Transporation Safety Board has released its preliminary report on the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office helicopter crash that killed four on July 16 near Chapelle. The report states that the crew was returning from helping fight wildfires in the Las Vegas area and had just refueled in Las Vegas.
Around 7:15 p.m., the helicopter left the staging area to return to Albuquerque. They say around 7:20 p.m. data showed the helicopter was about a half mile east of the accident site traveling about 153 miles per hour. Two witnesses were watching the sunset and reported the helicopter flying past them and then rapidly descending to the ground without making any turns.
According to the report, there was a large debris field and the main wreckage was found inverted about 160 feet beyond the initial impact. They also reported that the main rotor was about 40 feet to the left of the main wreckage.
The crash killed BCSO Undersheriff Larry Koren, Lt. Fred Beers, Deputy Michael Levison, and Bernalillo County Fire Department Rescue Specialist Matthew King. This is a preliminary report, the NTSB has not said when it will release the full report.