Two pilots killed in fire fighting helicopter crash near Salmon, Idaho, Lemhi County, US
Two pilots fighting the Moose Fire have died after their CH-47D Chinook helicopter crashed on Thursday afternoon around 15h30, 21 July 2022. The helicopter pilots were part of the crews fighting the Moose Fire, which has burned a total of 23 620 acres 21 miles north of Salmon in Idaho, US. The pilots were identified as Thomas Hayes, a 41-year-old man from Post Falls, Idaho, and Jared Bird, a 36-year-old man from Anchorage, Alaska. Lemhi County Sheriff Steve Penner said that both men were highly experienced pilots and veterans.
The US Forest Service said the CH-47D Series Chinook helicopter came down in the Salmon River.
Sheriff Penner said Lemhi County Dispatch was called about the downed helicopter at 4:48 p.m. Thursday. The sheriff's office, Salmon Search and Rescue, Gibbonsville QRU, Idaho Air Methods and Salmon EMT all responded to the scene.
"Upon arrival of the Lemhi County first responders, the United States Forest Service personnel were already diligently engaged in rescue efforts and lifesaving measures," Sheriff Penner said in a news release, which also states that the pilots were extricated from the helicopter and taken to medical facilities, where they died from their injuries.
The pilots were employees of ROTAK Helicopter Services, which is based in Anchorage. “We are devastated by this incredible loss,” Ely Woods, general manager of ROTAK Helicopter Services writes in a statement to EastIdahoNews.com. “Tommy and Jared represented the absolute best our country has to offer. Our hearts go out to their families, friends and loved ones.”
ROTAK is working with the National Transportation Safety Board, the Federal Aviation Administration and the US Forest Service during an investigation of the crash.
All ROTAK helicopters have been grounded until further notice.
“We are grateful for the first responders and volunteers assisting in the response, and will provide more information at the appropriate time,” Woods writes.
"Company leadership asks for prayers and privacy on behalf of the involved families at this time," the company said Thursday night in a written statement. Online fundraisers for the families of Thomas Hayes and Jared Bird have been started on GoFundMe.
Sources: ROTAK Helicopter Services, East Idaho News