Thursday, September 29, 2011

GPS unit found in copter crash that killed Richmond man. Robinson R-44, N8324F.

Dan Logghe

Federal officials investigating a helicopter crash that killed two Macomb County residents in northern Michigan have recovered a hand-held navigation device that might shed light into what caused the fatal crash last weekend.

Investigators located the GPS (global positioning system) unit that will be sent to the National Transportation Safety Board’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. for analysis, said NTSB spokesman Peter Knudson.

“That might be helpful to us in determining whether the helicopter crashed before arriving at the pilot’s destination point or later when they were leaving the area,” Knudson said Wednesday.

Dan Logghe, 46, of Richmond Township, was piloting the Robinson R-44 helicopter when it went down Friday night in Caledonia Township in Alcona County, which is approximately 85 miles north of Bay City. Mark May, 33, of Sterling Heights, was a passenger on the aircraft.

Logghe was a vice president and co-owner of Logghe Stamping Company, a family-owned metal stamping operation in Fraser that supplies the auto, defense and other industries. The helicopter was registered to the company, according to Federal Aviation Administration records.

According to the NTSB, Logghe and May left for a hunting trip from Logghe’s home in northern Macomb County in the helicopter about 6:30 p.m. Friday. They were heading to a cabin in Alcona County but relatives never heard from them over the weekend.

At 10 a.m. Monday, Logghe’s family filed a missing persons report with the Michigan State Police. About an hour later, hunters in Alcona came up the wreckage. The aircraft had struck several trees on its descent and caught on fire when it crashed.

Witnesses told investigators the helicopter was spotted going in and out of clouds Friday evening and weather conditions were rainy. An autopsy was scheduled to be performed Wednesday night or on Thursday.

“We’ll get toxicology tests from the autopsy as we try to look at the pilot’s 72-hour background to determine if there were any issues that would compromise his ability to operate the aircraft, all of which is standard,” Knudson said.

Investigators expected to wrap up their probe by Wednesday night or Thursday, he added. The cause of the accident may take up to 12 months to finalize.

Logghe was married with two children. Funeral arrangements were being handled by Kaatz Funeral Directors in Richmond with a memorial luncheon scheduled for Thursday afternoon.

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