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Pilot Killed After Copter Loses Main Rotor, Crashes

The pilot of a logging helicopter was killed when the main rotor apparently came off the craft and it crashed near here.

The pilot was William Wehling, 48, of Marysville. The helicopter was owned by Horizon Helicopters of Rancho Murieta in Southern California.

Federal investigators made a preliminary finding that the main rotor separated from the aircraft, King County police spokeswoman Joanne Elledge said.

The Bell UH1-B helicopter crashed about 9:40 a.m. Wednesday east of Skykomish near the Beckler River Campground.

A passerby on U.S. 2 had called authorities to report the crash.

Rescue teams had to hike about two miles to the crash site through rough terrain and over a couple of streams.

The pilot had been working with a crew cutting a 10-acre timber thinning sale about eight miles north of U.S. 2 in southeastern Snohomish County.

Federal Aviation Administration officials who went to the crash site told Elledge the main rotor appeared to have been separated from the aircraft. Earlier, U.S. Forest Service officials said they were told that there had been a problem with the helicopter’s tail rotor.

Elledge said the helicopter crashed while bringing logs from the cutting area to a landing zone to be transferred to trucks.

The helicopter had been logging for Longview Fibre, which operates a sawmill near Coles Corner west of Leavenworth, a spokesman said.

Jay Cook, a spokesman for Horizon, said that the company owns the craft but declined further comment.

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