1. #1
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    Default News Helicopter Crash

    (CNN) -- A "go team" from the National Transportation Safety Board has arrived in Phoenix, Arizona, to investigate the midair collision of two television news helicopters that killed all four people on board, an NTSB spokesman said Saturday.

    "Our condolences go out to the families and friends of the victims," Steve Chealander told reporters. "It's heartbreaking to see these kinds of accidents."

    KTVK-TV said photojournalist Jim Cox and pilot Scott Bowerback were killed in Friday's crash. KNXV-TV identified its crew as photographer Rick Krolak and pilot Craig Smith.

    Charred debris from the helicopters remained scattered in a downtown park, which was closed to the public.

    The rotor blade from one helicopter hit the front windshield of a truck, but the driver was uninjured. The blade finally imbedded itself in the asphalt, Chealander said.

    Chealander said eight NTSB investigators began arriving in Phoenix late Friday night. They will take the information they collect, including interviews with witnesses, back to Washington for analysis, he said. The spokesman said he didn't know how long that would take.

    Chealander said a pond in the park will be drained for any further evidence.

    The helicopters from rival stations were tracking a police chase through the streets of downtown Phoenix when they collided at midday Friday, crashing to the ground in flames and heavy smoke.

    Police were pursuing a stolen truck towing a trailer. The suspect was apprehended after a standoff.

    Phoenix Police Chief Jack Harris said the suspect will likely face criminal charges for the deaths.

    Aerial footage from another station covering the chase, KPNX-TV, showed large plumes of black smoke and flames coming from the wreckage. Watch smoke and flames pour from debris

    "I was driving and heard a bang," one unnamed witness told KPHO-TV.

    "I was standing out on Central Avenue and I was looking over to the park and saw the helicopters get close," Jerry Fender told KPHO. "The blue one split and went down. The red or orange one went right after it."

    "Looked something like 9/11 with debris exploding everywhere," said witness Brian Kenneth, the station reported.

    Rick Gotchie, a Phoenix air-conditioning contractor working at a nearby building, was watching the helicopters circling the scene and noticed they were getting closer to each other, The Associated Press reported.

    "I kept saying go lower, go lower, but he didn't," Gotchie said.

    Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor told The Associated Press the agency is reviewing air traffic control tapes to see if the helicopters' pilots were communicating before the crash.

    "Typically air traffic controllers clear helicopters into an area where they can cover a chase like this," Gregor told AP. "Once they are in the area, the pilots themselves are responsible for keeping themselves separated from other aircraft."
    Tragic what happened there. But here is the part I have a problem with:

    The helicopters from rival stations were tracking a police chase through the streets of downtown Phoenix when they collided at midday Friday, crashing to the ground in flames and heavy smoke.

    Police were pursuing a stolen truck towing a trailer. The suspect was apprehended after a standoff.

    Phoenix Police Chief Jack Harris said the suspect will likely face criminal charges for the deaths.
    Why is it the guys fault that overeager news crews hungry for ratings took too much of a risk?

    Should he have the book thrown at him if he hit somebody while driving...yes.
    If one of the cops trying to stop him wrecks.....YES

    News people in helicopters disregarding safety....I don't think so.

    Feel free to coment, what are your thoughs?

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    Ya know Marcus, I thought the exact same thing when I read this in the paper this morning. I definitely agree with you. I really can't understand the reasoning for adding charges. Like you mentioned, yes if a Police Officer died while in pursuit, yes if the guy hits a car or civilian etc. People have become soo fascinated with these damn chases lately. There are tv shows devoted entirely to them, people will stand along the road to watch, even try and get involved. People have even become a hinderance to Police Officers during these situations. Sorry these people died, but when you're flying a helicopter, your first responsibility is to pay attention and fly the helicopter. Each had 2 people in them, one to fly, one to watch what the hell he's doing on the ground.
    Last edited by callaway75; 07-28-2007 at 05:34 PM.

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    I'm kind of shaking my head on that as well. He didn't cause those helo's to crash into one another. The over-aggressive pilots and crew trying to get the best shots of the chase caused this. Like you two said, if he crashed and killed a police officer or an innocent person driving up the road, charge him. But this. That is definitely the most retarded thing I have heard in a while. It's just a bit of s**tty luck that could have been avoided.
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    I agree that the guy should face some serious time, but his lawyer needs to fight those charges. I mean, hey, they had the whole sky to fly in so them hitting each other was their own problem.

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    I am always one for throwing everything possible at criminals with a reckless disregard for anyone but themselves. However, in this case there is no basis whatsoever for charging him in the deaths of the helicopters crews. The responsibility for those deaths falls solely on the pilot in command of each aircraft. They are 100% responsible for the safety of their aircraft and 100% responsible for seeing and avoiding other aircraft and obstacles. How they hit determines how much blame each pilot holds (head on / broad side / nose to tail / etc). Had the pilots managed to survive this accident, the NTSB would without a doubt find one or both completely at fault and the FAA would without a doubt take some kind of enforcement action against them.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    I told my dad about this. He said they were probably pinning it on the guy, thinking that if he hadn't done what he did, they wouldn't have been up there. But he still didn't agree with it. I say that this part will be thrown out. At least I hope so. If not then this would open up the door to all kinds of things.

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    Any defense attorney with the brain power of an chimpanzee will have that part thrown out before you can say Jack McCoy.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    im with you guys, if i get pulled over in the westbound lane for speeding and the guy in the eastbound lane is watching the trooper write me a ticket and smashes into another car is it my fault?

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    Let me preface this by saying that I have no idea what AZ law is. But I can tell you that in NJ, they would be charged with Felony Murder in addition to any other charges. Felony Murder is causing a death during the commission of a felony. The theory being that the deaths would not have occurred if the felony had not been committed.

    I know that I have discussed this before, but let me give two examples. Several years ago in Paramus, NJ, a police officer responding to what turned out to be a false report of a robbery at a mall was involved in a crash and was killed. The investigation identified the caller and he was charged with a bunch of charges related to the call, along with Felony Murder.

    In another case, a homeless mope set a fire in a school bus at a facility with night security. While attempting to fight the fire, he had an MI and died. The homeless mope was charged with Arson and Felony Murder.

    I can only assume that AZ has a similar statute. If so, you will need to find a defense attorney who is smarter than a chimp. I do not know if that is possible.

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    Oh geez. So if AZ laws are anything like NJ's, that guy is in some serious trouble. I didn't think that they could charge somebody like that, but obviously they can. Then again, there is a such thing as involuntary manslaugher. But what he did wasn't a misdemeanor. So yeah, felonly murder could be in that guy's future. I guess all a prosecutor would have to do is present some examples from other states and how the court ruled on them.

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    So.... can the drunk driver (who caused the crash where the ambulance later ran a stop sign and killed two patients from the other car plus three EMS workers a week or so ago) also be held accountable?

    The bone box driver apparently caused the wreck by not yielding at a stop sign. The helo pilots failed to yield to each other.

    I'm not trying to stir the pot, but trying to see where this ends.

    FWIW I am in the camp of throwing the book in general but can't quite arrive at charging this driver with the helo fatalities.....
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgeWendtCFI View Post
    Let me preface this by saying that I have no idea what AZ law is. But I can tell you that in NJ, they would be charged with Felony Murder in addition to any other charges. Felony Murder is causing a death during the commission of a felony. The theory being that the deaths would not have occurred if the felony had not been committed.

    I know that I have discussed this before, but let me give two examples. Several years ago in Paramus, NJ, a police officer responding to what turned out to be a false report of a robbery at a mall was involved in a crash and was killed. The investigation identified the caller and he was charged with a bunch of charges related to the call, along with Felony Murder.

    In another case, a homeless mope set a fire in a school bus at a facility with night security. While attempting to fight the fire, he had an MI and died. The homeless mope was charged with Arson and Felony Murder.

    I can only assume that AZ has a similar statute. If so, you will need to find a defense attorney who is smarter than a chimp. I do not know if that is possible.
    The examples that you gave are good examples of cases that I agree with. The difference is that I would EXPECT a cop to respond, I would EXPECT night security to fight a fire. To me a NEWS Helicopter has no RIGHT or DUTY to chase after a car on the run and totally disregard the safety of others.

    Where does this end if we go after this case?

    Scenario: I hold up the 7-11 at the corner at 5:00PM and get away, during the 10:00PM newscast the reporter is standing on the street corner reporting LIVE FROM THE SCENE OF THE CRIME! in front of the 7-11. Some smock runs her over with his car and kills her. So it is MY murder now, because if I hadn't robbed the 7-11, the reporter would not have been there?

    Those news helicopers are in the air 24/7 in any big town. They have a responsibility to watch out for their airspace. Newspeople are just rubber-neckers with big fancy toys, they are not part of law-enforcement, fire service, or EMS. Some ********* stealing a car does not release them from watching where the hell they are flying.

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    While I am sure that the helos had their transponders and SkyHarbor ATC was monitoring their positions, it was pilot error that caused the collision.
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgeWendtCFI View Post
    Let me preface this by saying that I have no idea what AZ law is.

    George,
    Here's a link to Arizona Laws
    http://www.azleg.state.az.us/Arizona...s.asp?Title=28



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    Default Well...

    I was talking about this kinda thing the other day with a Sheriffs Deputy friend of mine. I had asked how could they charge Lindsay Lohan with bringing a controlled substance into a jail facility (from her DUI the other night)? Its not like it was her idea to walk into the place with blow in her pocket, she was under arrest and they took her there.

    He said that its common practice to throw any charge you can think at someone. They dont expect them all to stick, but they do it anyway. Im sure thats part of the story here as well...
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    Quote Originally Posted by AZFF25 View Post
    George,
    Here's a link to Arizona Laws
    http://www.azleg.state.az.us/Arizona...s.asp?Title=28



    AZFF
    Thanks, but the link is for the MV statutes. Felony Murder would be inthe Criminal statutes, probably in the Homicide Chapter. It may also be called something like Strict Liability.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainGonzo View Post
    While I am sure that the helos had their transponders and SkyHarbor ATC was monitoring their positions, it was pilot error that caused the collision.
    I'm sure they had their transponders on. However VFR flight requires no ATC monitoring or control. I have no doubt that if they were previously under flight following with ATC, that was terminated and the last words out of the controllers mouth were "MAINTAIN VFR".
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    Final moments.............

    ******=================
    ******================
    ******=================
    ******================
    =======================
    =======================
    =======================

    ------GOD BLESS AMERICA ! ------

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    George,
    Here's an UPDATE for you.
    http://www.azleg.state.az.us/Arizona...s.asp?Title=13


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    Quote Originally Posted by BFDNJFF View Post
    Final moments.............
    That's just eerie.

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    Based upon some news articles I have read, as well as a review of the material forwarded by AZ, I do not believe that AZ has a law similar to NJ in respect to Felony Murder.

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    Default Seven Degrees of Separation

    SDS - Remember Kevin Bacon? Supposedly that means we are all involved in this mess. Watch for that knock on the door. My feeling is the news companies print and or photograph to sell their product. These were not Sheriffs helicopters. We as responders are expected to be there. News organizations are not mandated by Government to be at any type of emergency scene. So for them that means competition. In the aerial news biz that means first come first served. The first helo on scene gets dibs on airspace. Thereafter all arriving units are expected to stack above and behind the primary. Envision Purple Martins coming in to roost. Heck, it gets crowded up there. My guess is one or both pilots or a fluke of weather caused the impact. It will probably be shown that the vertical airspace between them was compromised. They did not maintain the rules of stacking at the scene for what ever reason.
    Legal rules otherwise the offender deals with the ground consequences alone.

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    National news is reporting that the choppers were stacked and the bottom one went up, unaware the top one was there. The top one was supposedly attempting to contact the bottom one to warn them, but it didn't work. Just tragic.

    As for criminal charges, I agree that someone who chooses to go into that situation on their own is very different from LEOs/FFs/EMS who go in as a job requirement. I'd almost be inclined to say if it were one news chopper and one PD chopper that the suspect could only be charged with the PD death.

    But the law is an imperfect thing. If I shoot you in the head and you survive, I am charged with attempted murder. If you die, it's murder, with a stiffer penalty. I have committed the same act either way; it is purely dumb luck for me whether you live or die, because I have tried my best to kill you. We should punish based on the intentions, not the outcomes.
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    Quote Originally Posted by EastKyFF View Post
    National news is reporting that the choppers were stacked and the bottom one went up, unaware the top one was there. The top one was supposedly attempting to contact the bottom one to warn them, but it didn't work. Just tragic.

    As for criminal charges, I agree that someone who chooses to go into that situation on their own is very different from LEOs/FFs/EMS who go in as a job requirement. I'd almost be inclined to say if it were one news chopper and one PD chopper that the suspect could only be charged with the PD death.

    But the law is an imperfect thing. If I shoot you in the head and you survive, I am charged with attempted murder. If you die, it's murder, with a stiffer penalty. I have committed the same act either way; it is purely dumb luck for me whether you live or die, because I have tried my best to kill you. We should punish based on the intentions, not the outcomes.
    Ah yes, but, therein lies the problem. Intentions are based on subjective information and subject to interpretation like the law. For example and I hope this comes out the way it is playing in my brain: I ram your car with the intention of killing you but am smart enough to make it appear as though it were an accident. You in the process are paralysed. I should be charged with attempted murder if the forensics can indict me. However I am not because the intent of my actions was known only to me. On the flip side of the coin an unintended killing of a human being that in all circumstances appears to be intentional would result in an even stiffer penalty because of malice of forethought. That intention thing can be a pain to prove or disprove. It is a double edged sword. Again I hope I made some sort of a point even if it is a dull one.
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    How about another paradox...

    If I am drunk and drive my car into a van containing my upstairs neighbor's family and kill them, I am charged with vehicular homicide and will probably go to jail for a long time.

    If I make it home, and fall asleep drunk in a chair while I left the stove on, and a fire kills the upstairs neighbors family, it is a horrible accident.

    Kind of not right, huh?

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