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One Dead In Copter Crash

by Doug Houston (NSA President) |

A pilot was killed when his helicopter crashed ferrying supplies to a remote fire in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.

Mike Ward, 55, of Clayton, Georgia, was the only person in the aircraft when it crashed about six miles south of Stevens Pass.

The single-engine Bell 205 went out of control after its tail hit a dead tree. Firefighters who witnessed the accident did not report any strange engine noise.

Smokejumpers were fighting two small fires near Lake Lorraine that were reported Tuesday. The helicopter was lowering supplies on a rope and was in radio contact with a spotter on the ground when its tail hit the snag. There were two nets with one being dropped off at one fire and the pilot was picking up to carry the second net over to the other fire being staffed by jumpers.

The helicopter was owned by Helicopter Express of Lawrenceville, Ga. and was being flown under contract with the forest service.

Hes kind of a legend in his area of Georgia, owner of the company said. He was a very well known pilot. Ward had three adult children and lived with a longtime companion.

Our hats are off to these pilots who risk their lives supporting smokejumpers and other firefighters on a daily basis. We could not perform our jobs without them and it is a real tragedy to lose Mike Ward. Out thoughts and prayers go out to his family and loved ones.