Preliminary Accident Report Released In WNY Fatal Helicopter Crash

WGRZ-TV / YouTube

ELBA, N.Y. – A preliminary accident report is shedding more light on a fatal medical helicopter crash in Western New York last month.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board, the Mercy Flight helicopter was out for an earlier flight that day, and returned with no issues before taking off from the Genesee County Airport in Batavia around 11:10 a.m. on April 26.

The report details several eyewitness accounts, one report indicated the helicopter was “almost stationary” at one point, before the eyewitness heard a loud “bang” as it started to fly away. The helicopter then began to descend out of control.

Other eyewitnesses said the helicopter “fell apart,” with those on the ground hearing a “whooshing” noise” from the engine, then “three loud and rapid cracks.”

The crash resulted in the deaths of two pilots, 60-year-old James Sauer and 60-year-old Bell Helicopter Instructor Stewart Dietrick who were out for an instructional flight.

The report states that damage to both the engine and gearbox was likely due to impact damage. The tail rotor drive shaft however was fractured about midway to the blower.

The full report is available here.


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