BOISE – A helicopter chartered by a state wildlife agency plunged into a travel trailer and crashed Tuesday on a downtown street in the small Idaho town of Kamiah, killing two biologists and the pilot.
Officials suspect mechanical failure caused the aircraft to flip over before it plummeted from the sky just a block from Main Street.
Debris was scattered along several blocks, but no one on the ground was injured.
Witness Jim Emmert saw the crash from his house.
“I saw white parts coming off of it,” Emmert said of the helicopter. “It made a crumpled sound – like paper being crumpled – and then a loud crash and an explosion. And then nothing.”
The Fish and Game biologists on board were identified as Larry Barrett, 47, and Danielle Schiff, 34. The pilot was Perry J. Krinitt, 43, of Belgrade, Mont.
The Department of Fish and Game had chartered the aircraft from Clarkston-based Leading Edge Aviation to count salmon spawning nests on the Selway River.
The National Transportation Safety Board and Lewis County Sheriff’s Office were investigating the crash.