Crater Lake Crash Victims Identified Park Will Try To Recover Copter That Sank In 1,500 Feet Of Water
Authorities on Sunday identified two men as having been aboard a helicopter that suddenly plunged into Crater Lake on a calm, clear Saturday.
The pilot was George W. Causey, 52, of Enumclaw, Wash. The only passenger known to have been aboard was Edward Tulleners Jr., 45, of West Linn, the National Park Service said.
Their bodies had not been recovered.
The Park Service on Sunday was exploring methods of finding the wreckage, which sank in 1,500 feet of water about a mile from shore.
“If it’s something we can recover, we will try,” park superintendent Al Hendricks said.
Crater Lake, the nation’s deepest lake, is almost 2,000 feet deep in areas. The lake covers 21 square miles in the caldera of an extinct volcano.
Tourists along the rim watched in disbelief Saturday morning as the helicopter skimmed over the smooth surface of the lake and then plunged into the deep water.
“People started hollering, ‘Something’s happened,”’ said Steve Robinson, a ranger at Crater Lake National Park. “People ran up saying, ‘There’s a helicopter in the lake.’ By the time I got to the rim, the lake was calm. It all happened so fast.”
The helicopter, an Aerospatiale AS 350, also known as an A-STAR, was a demonstrator model, based in Seattle. It was capable of carrying up to six passengers, besides the pilot.
Enumclaw apparently was heading to a trade show in Las Vegas when the crash occurred, said Lynda Kate, a spokeswoman for American Eurocopter of Grand Prairie, Texas, which owned the aircraft.
Witnesses reported seeing the helicopter as it came over the rim and flew low over the southwest side of the lake toward Wizard Island. The aircraft had turned back toward the south when it crashed.
“I saw a big white rooster tail of water and then it was gone,” said Charles Holmes, a tourist from Logan, Utah.
“I’d say in a few seconds it was gone. A few chunks of debris floating, that was all I saw.”
The National Transportation Safety Board said late Saturday that searchers had recovered a couple of seats, pieces of the aluminum fuselage, some papers and the helicopter’s flight log.
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