Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Robinson R22, N8537J: Fatal accident occurred October 24, 2017 in Arlington, Snohomish County, Washington

The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Renton, Washington

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

NTSB Identification: WPR18FA016
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, October 24, 2017 in Arlington, WA
Aircraft: ROBINSON R22, registration: N8537J
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Minor.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On October 24, 2017, about 1315 Pacific daylight time, a Robinson R22 Alpha helicopter, N8537J, was substantially damaged following impact with water while performing a low-level maneuver at King Lake, located about 6 nautical miles east-southeast of Arlington, Washington. The commercial pilot was fatally injured, and the sole passenger sustained minor injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the local flight, which was operated in accordance with 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The flight had departed the pilot's residence, located about 1,350 ft south-southwest of the accident site, about 5 minutes prior to the accident. A flight plan was not filed.

In an interview with the National Transportation Safety Board investigator-in-charge, a witness to the accident, who resides less than 100 yards west of the accident site, reported that he observed the helicopter approach from the south to the north and descend rapidly over the trees that border the lake on the south. The witness opined that the pilot had performed this type of maneuver may times in the past. The witness stated that the pilot then proceeded north about 5 to 6 ft above the water before the skids contacted the water and pulled the helicopter down. The helicopter subsequently sank in about 31 ft of water. 

The helicopter was subsequently recovered for further examination.

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email 

The pilot of a helicopter that crashed into a Snohomish County lake Tuesday has died.

Ernest Stark, 70, of Arlington, and a passenger were in a Robinson R22 helicopter when it crashed into King Lake southeast of Arlington just before 1 p.m. The passenger, a male, was able to swim to the shore and Stark was rescued by a witness, the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office said.

Stark died of drowning, according to the Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office. His death has been ruled an accident.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash.

ARLINGTON — A helicopter crashed into a lake south of Arlington on Tuesday, sending two men to the hospital.

The pilot was in critical condition, said spokeswoman Courtney O’Keefe with the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office.

A passenger had serious injuries but was expected to survive.

Neighbors living near King Lake, a remote body of water in the woods east of Jordan Road north of Granite Falls, heard a strange noise around 1 p.m. as the helicopter took off. It was airborne for only about a minute, O’Keefe said.

Jeffrey Abrams saw the helicopter fly over the trees and across the water.

The private pilot regularly flies in the area, he said. Sometimes he will slow down and hover over the lake. This time, he was moving fast.

The helicopter flew unusually low. Abrams saw the skids hit the water, and the entire aircraft dove in.

“It was a significantly loud bang, almost like an explosion,” he said.

The injured passenger was able to swim away from the wreckage. However, the pilot was unconscious in the middle of the lake, Abrams said.

Abrams’ wife, Lillie, called 911 while he snagged life jackets and oars from their shed. He climbed into a dinghy and rowed out to the injured pilot. At that point, the helicopter was completely submerged.

Abrams was able to help both men back to shore.

Tuesday wasn’t the first time the couple has called for help after someone found themselves in trouble on the lake. Last year, a man in his 50s drowned after his canoe overturned.

The Department of Ecology sent crews to evaluate any fuel spills from Tuesday’s crash. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating what caused the wreck.

Story and photo gallery ➤

ARLINGTON, Wash. - Two people were injured when a helicopter crashed into a Snohomish County lake on Tuesday afternoon.

The Snohomish County Sheriff's Office dive team headed to the scene, about five miles southeast of Arlington at King Lake, at 1:15 p.m. after receiving a report of a helicopter crash with two people on board.

The Sheriff's Office said it got reports that the helicopter had been up for 60 to 90 seconds when witnesses heard unusual noises.

Jeffrey Abrams told KOMO News that he watched the helicopter fly 6 to 10 feet above King Lake. Then the skids hit the lake, and the helicopter nose dived into the water, he said.

"It was a significant loud bang, almost like an explosion."

He asked his wife to call 911 and ran to get his oars for his small boat.

The helicopter had already gone under.

"I started to row," Abrams said. "I just wanted to save those two men."

Abrams said he knows both the pilot and his passenger.

One man, the passenger, was swimming toward a log, and the pilot was just floating face-down in the water.

He picked up the floating pilot and eventually hooked him to the front of the boat.

The passenger also got into the boat.

As Abrams was rowing to shore, emergency crews arrived and began CPR on the man who was floating, he said.

Snohomish County Sheriff's officials said both victims were eventually taken to a local hospital -- the pilot in critical condition; the passenger in serious but stable condition.

An oil sheen also could be seen spreading across the lake from the submerged wreckage of the helicopter.

Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board are at the scene of the crash. The agency expects the helicopter to remain in the lake over night.

The state Ecology Department is on hand to deal with fuel spills.

Story, video and photo gallery ➤

ARLINGTON, Wash. - A helicopter went under water after crashing into King Lake, southeast of Arlington in Snohomish County.

The crash happened around 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday. A dive team responded with medics to the lake, where an oil sheen remains on the water's surface. 

A neighbor, Dr. Jeffrey Abrams, took his boat into the water to pull the pilot from the helicopter as it sank. The pilot is in critical condition at an area hospital. 

"(I) lifted (them) up brought (them) close to the boat. Tried to compress the chest to see if I (could) get any water out of him, revive him, shook him a little bit," Dr. Abrams told KIRO 7. 

The passenger is in said to be in serious, but stable condition. 

The chopper that crashed is an Robinson R22.  Investigators say it was in the air less than two minutes.

Story and video ➤

ARLINGTON, Wash. — Two men were rushed to the hospital after a private helicopter crashed into a lake near Arlington.

The crash happened shortly after 1 p.m. at King Lake.

The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office says neighbors pulled the pilot out of the water. He is in critical condition.

The passenger swam to the shore. He is listed in serious but stable condition.

Neighbors who know the pilot say he is in his mid 60s, and that the passenger is a young man and family friend.

Both people were transported to local hospitals.

The sheriff's office says the helicopter was airborne for about a minute and a half before the crash.

No word on what caused the helicopter to crash.

Story and video ➤

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