WPVI News Helicopter Crashes In New Jersey Forest, Killing Pilot And Photographer

A news helicopter has crashed in a New Jersey forest, killing both the pilot and photographer on board, the television station said.

Wednesday, December 20th 2023, 9:17 am

By: Associated Press


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A news helicopter has crashed in a New Jersey forest, killing both the pilot and photographer on board, the television station said.

“A pilot and a photographer from our news team were in the helicopter when it went down while returning from an assignment at the Jersey Shore” on Tuesday night, WPVI-TV in Philadelphia reported. “Both crew members were killed.”

The station did not release their names pending notification of family members.

“Our hearts are just broken for these men. They’re broken for their families,” reporter Katherine Scott said Wednesday morning, reporting from near the scene of the crash.

The crash happened sometime after 8 p.m. in Wharton State Forest in Hammonton, New Jersey, the station said. The area is part of the New Jersey Pinelands, a million-acre wilderness area that stretches across more than seven counties and features dense woods, rivers and rare plant species.

Video taken from a WTXF-TV helicopter over the wreckage site showed scattered debris, with some pieces on fire or smoking, as authorities searched with flashlights in the darkness.

The cause of the crash was not immediately clear.

New Jersey State Park Police found the wreckage early Wednesday, just over an hour after receiving a call that a helicopter was missing, said George Fedorczyk, chief of the department. An official with the Federal Aviation Administration arrived shortly after 3 a.m.

“Due to the remote location of the scene and the limited visibility, it was determined at that point that the investigation would be suspended until sometime after daybreak,” Fedorczyk said at a morning news conference. “Know that our thoughts are with the pilots, their families and the media community.”

He said the National Transportation Safety Board was taking over the investigation and sending officials to the site.

WPVI-TV reported that it leases the helicopter from U.S. Helicopters Inc., which is based in North Carolina. A spokesperson said company officials were not prepared to comment Wednesday morning.

Emails seeking comment were sent Wednesday to New Jersey State Police, the New Jersey State Park Police and the FAA.

There have been other deadly helicopter crashes involving staff from television stations in the United States. Among them was a July 2007 crash, when two helicopters from KNXV-TV and KTVK-TV collided over Phoenix while covering a police chase. Four people — both pilots and two photographers — were killed.

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