Man killed in helicopter crash wanted to fly over Texas childhood home, report finds

·2 min read
National Transportation Safety Board

The front-seat passenger killed while taking part in a sightseeing flight he won at a local charity auction wanted to fly over his childhood home in Texas, officials say.

As the helicopter flew toward his home near Woodville on Dec. 30, 2021, “it became evident that the flight could not be continued due to low clouds,” according to the National Transportation Safety Board’s Aviation Accident Preliminary Report released Friday, Jan. 7.

Officials say the helicopter then changed course to see his current home near Livingston instead.

A rear passenger told officials the helicopter flew over the road where the home was located before flying around it at a low speed. It then flew over a pond on the property before flying toward the house.

Surviving passengers say the helicopter “was either motionless in the hover or slightly drifting” as it approached the home, according to the report.

“Once in the hover, the helicopter began to rotate to the right, which one passenger initially thought was the pilot intentionally maneuvering the helicopter,” the report says. “The helicopter continued to rotate, and the passenger realized the rotation was not intentional. The helicopter rotated about 2 full revolutions before striking a tree with the rotor blades and falling to the ground.”

A photo from NTSB shows the helicopter lying on its left side following the 11:41 a.m. fatal crash.

A passenger says he attended to the pilot and the front-seat passenger and noticed the helicopter’s engine was still running, according to the report.

“He started moving any switch he could find to the ‘off’ position until the helicopter’s engine stopped,” officials report.

Officials say Daniel King, 54, was pronounced dead at the scene, and passengers Braydon King, 26, and Brocton King, 23, were treated at a hospital, according to KHOU.

The 73-year-old pilot was also treated at a hospital, according to KPRC.

The NTSB says the passengers suffered minor injuries and the pilot, identified by media outlets as John Martin, was seriously injured.

A “postrecovery examination” of the helicopter is planned for a later date, officials say. It could not be done at the crash site because of the helicopter’s positioning.

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