Friday, December 30, 2022

Bell 407, N595RL: Fatal accident occurred December 29, 2022 in Gulf of Mexico

National Transportation Safety Board - Accident Number: CEN23FA071

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation may contact them by email, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email You can also call the NTSB Response Operations Center at 844-373-9922 or 202-314-6290.

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Rotorcraft flight had arrived at West Delta 106 Platform (WD106) at 0819 (local) with four (4) passengers onboard. The four (4) passengers were dropped off and three (3) passengers boarded the rotorcraft. The rotorcraft departed WD106 enroute to Galliano, Louisiana (KGAO) and crashed back onto the helideck during takeoff, subsequently breaking apart and fell into the Gulf of Mexico. 

Date: 29-DEC-22
Time: 18:23:00Z
Regis#: N595RL
Aircraft Make: BELL
Aircraft Model: 407
Event Type: ACCIDENT
Highest Injury: FATAL
Total Fatal: 4
Flight Crew: 1 Fatal
Pax: 3 Fatal 
Aircraft Missing: No
Flight Phase: TAKEOFF (TOF)
Operation: 135
Flight Number: N595RL

David Scarborough, 36, from Lizana, Mississippi is confirmed to be a passenger on the helicopter that crashed off the shore of Louisiana Thursday afternoon. 
(Scarborough Family)

David Scarborough, his wife Lacy, and their son Sawyer who they lost to a drowning in March 2022.
(Scarborough Family)

BILOXI, Mississippi (WLOX) - Officials have called off the rescue mission for survivors of a helicopter crash about 10 miles off the coast of Louisiana. Among the four people on board was a South Mississippi man.

David Scarborough, 36, is an oil rig worker from Lizana, and the nephew of a WLOX staff member. He’s worked offshore for eight years. We’re told he had just completed a two-week shift and was on his way home to celebrate Christmas with his family, including his pregnant wife, Lacy.

This was already a bittersweet time for the family - Back in March, the couple lost their young son, Sawyer, to an accidental drowning. Lacy is now pregnant with a second little boy.

The Thursday morning crash happened around 8:40 a.m. as the helicopter was departing the oil platform. Witnesses said they saw the rotorcraft hit the helicopter pad, then tumble into the water. The Coast Guard does not believe anyone made it out of the helicopter.

Members of the U.S. Coast Guard spent hours searching for the pilot and three rig workers on board. Just before 5 p.m., they called off the search and rescue mission. Family members were told the oil rig company will start its own recovery efforts Friday at first daylight.

Coast Guard Petty Officer Jose Hernandez says Rotorcraft Leasing Company owns the helicopter. The platform is owned by a Houston-based company, Walter Oil and Gas.

Weather didn’t appear to be a factor in the crash, Hernandez said, as there were no reports of storms in the area Thursday.

Two weeks ago, the Coast Guard rescued three people after a helicopter crashed off the Louisiana coast while attempting to land on an oil rig platform. That crash occurred Dec. 15 south of Terrebonne Bay, roughly 60 miles (96.56 kilometers) west of the area the Coast Guard was searching Thursday.

Debris from helicopter crash 10 miles off Southwest Pass, Louisiana, December 29, 2022. The Coast Guard suspended its search for four occupants aboard a downed helicopter. One victim was identified by family as David Scarborough of Lizana, Mississippi.


  1. got to be the saddest events this Christmas season

    1. Godspeed. My lifelong advice to all humans, "Never get in or near a running helicopter."

    2. I agree whole heartedly. I've been flying for 40 years and when a rotorcraft is landing or departing I try to discreetly go somewhere else. Preferably behind something solid!

  2. Yes, my heart goes out to his wife and family.

  3. What comfort can there be for this poor woman. Please God, be merciful to her in this hour.

  4. As long as you allow these clown operators to continue without a workers union, more crashes to come. I have been screaming this since 2000! I even submitted letters and articles to Island Operating in 2003 and 'go gulf magazine" about this helicopter madness, both told me I was a lunatic... but hey, as long as you worship dollars the country is doomed.

    1. The dollar (money) is the planet's most extensive problem.

    2. Do workers union goals include making the landing platforms larger, with backup catch netting just below them, or maybe push for using boats instead of helicopters? Asking because the laws of physics don't change with unionization. What specifically will unionization "fix"?

    3. The laws of physics don't allow for catching helicopters in nets!

    4. What is your story about the "clown operators?" I see a rant, but no details, no specifics. What is your verifiable beef about the helo operation?

    5. They're are a lunatic. As asked above: what has unionization got to do with anything? Mechanical failure doesn't care about your political affiliation.

    6. Unionization allows for regulations be put in place so that this company might not have had 10 people die in past 14 years. Proper checks and balances could have saved lives and prevent mechanical failures.

  5. Shady company with 10 deaths in only 14 years of operation. Almost one fatality per year. No civil aviation company should have such record. Also, why single-pilot, single-engine operations are allowed in offshore? One small fog and you're in deep IFR, all by yourself, on a shitty Bell 407.

    1. Interesting to read details for this year:

      Accident reports for the fatals from the article:
      Jan 14, 2022 Unexplained descent, Bell 407, N167RL

      October 26, 2022 Pilot medical event, Bell 407, N34BM

  6. These are good paying jobs, but they do not come without known risks. An oil platform worker has to go through rigorous helicopter ditching training just like what naval aviators go through before they are hired. You get strapped into a mock helicopter fuselage and then dunked in an indoor pool and turned upside down. You have to get oriented and unstrap and get out without any help or scuba oxygen gear (there are safety divers right there with an extra regulator for emergencies). The fact they lost their son prior to his death is just that much more tragic. That poor woman. May she find strength, help, and comfort in family and friends.

  7. If there is something to learn from this horrible tragedy, it may be to understand just how risky this activity is, and balance that against the benefits you see in taking a job on an oil rig, having to land on that platform, as part of the job. In many activities you can have an accident, and there are high odds of walking away from it with little to no injury. In this case, just about any helicopter accident traveling over water and then landing and taking off from this platform, even in excellent flying conditions, leaves very little chance of survival. To make matters worse, with such a dangerous endeavor, the more you do it, the more likely you are to experience such a fatal accident. Experience becomes deceiving, even for the pilot. Your odds of survival actually go down the more you undertake such a dangerous activity. The chance of it happening may be small, but the consequences are catastrophic if it happens. For example, say you have a small 1 in 200 chance of a crash each flight, 0.5%, based on operational experience. This means after 100 flights, your odds of a crash (and most likely being killed) are now about 40%. Mathematically, this calculation is called the survival rule of probability. It's why World War Two bomber crews only had to fly 25 missions before rotating out. That was the point when they reached about a 50% chance of being shot down, based on about a 2.5% chance each mission, the rate of how many bombers were actually being lost on each mission. The more you do a dangerous activity where the most likely outcome of an accident is death, the closer you are to having that happen. Until flying back and forth to a rig and having an accident along the way can be made so much safer to the point where the most likely outcome is survival, then you have to consciously decided that you, as an individual, must do it less often, and pick a point when you are finished doing it completely. Nevertheless, this does not preclude you dying on your very first trip due to totally bad luck, or surviving hundreds of them without incident because luck was on your side. This is just the way statistics work when dealing with large numbers of independent events, like this. My sincere condolences to the families. I know this observation cannot ease your pain. It's just that oil rig workers need to know more about what they are getting involved in here.