Two dead in KOMO-TV news copter crash

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KOMOTwo people died 3/18 when a KOMO-TV (Sinclair) helicopter crashed on the street outside Fisher Plaza in Seattle. The two who died were on the helicopter, according to Seattle Fire Department spokesman Kyle Moore and a Seattle Times story.


The helicopter, which was taking off from the helipad atop the KOMO building, dropped to the ground, landing on at least one car. A second car and a pickup were on fire when firefighters arrived, but it isn’t clear if they had been hit by the helicopter, according to the fire department.

One person in one of the cars, a 37-year-old man, was taken in critical condition to the hospital. He suffered burns over 50% of his body, Moore said.

A woman in the second car walked away from the crash scene but later appeared at a police station. The man in the pickup left the area before anyone could talk with him, Moore said. They are looking for him.

Chris McColgan, who lives a couple blocks west of crash, said he was driving west on Broad Street, stopped at the light on John Street, just two cars ahead of where the helicopter came down. He saw the helicopter fall from the helipad: “It just blew up instantly.”

Other eyewitnesses told KOMO radio that fuel from the crashed helicopter ran down Broad Street, causing at least one woman to jump out of her car and flee the scene. The fuel burst into flame, sending thick clouds of black smoke into the air near the Space Needle.

KOMO staff members reported that the fireball from the crashed copter could be seen from their newsroom. They said that an hour after the crash, staff members remained dazed, some sitting at their desks with their heads in their hands.

According to a news report, the helicopter was a temporary chopper, used jointly with Gannett’s KING-TV in a shared arrangement. KOMO Seattle has identified the victims of the station’s chopper crash Tuesday morning as pilot Gary Pfitzner and photographer Bill Strothman, according to a KGW Portland report. RBR-TVBR spoke with the KOMO-TV newsroom, but they could only tell us, understandably, to call back later.

See the Seattle Times story here.


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Carl has been with RBR-TVBR since 1997 and is currently Managing Director/Senior Editor. Residing in Northern Virginia, he covers the business of broadcasting, advertising, programming, new media and engineering. He’s also done a great deal of interviews for the company and handles our ever-growing stable of bylined columnists.