Two people were killed and one badly injured when a KOMO-TV news helicopter crashed near Seattle’s Space Needle, reports KOMONews.com.
The crash killed KOMO News photographer Bill Strothman and pilot Gary Pfitzner, the story reports.
The helicopter hit two cars and a pickup truck. While people in two vehicles escaped unharmed, the driver of a third vehicle suffered burns on up to 20% of his body, according to the report. The victim, Richard Newman, 38, was in serious condition and in intensive care.
“The helicopter exploded into a fireball on impact. Huge flames and thick plumes of black smoke poured from the blazing wreckage, about 50 yards from the base of the Space Needle,” the story notes.
The report adds: “Fuel gushing from the wreckage caught fire and burned for a block from the crash scene. Secondary explosions continued for several minutes afterward.”
“Strothman worked for many years at KOMO News and was well-known to many of the employees,” the piece reports. “After retiring from KOMO, he worked as a free-lancer and also as an employee of Helicopters Inc., the company that operates the chopper leased by both KOMO and KING-TV.”
News anchor Dan Lewis said of Strothman, "He really knew how his pictures could tell a million words. He put so much into getting just the right shots, the right video, putting it in the right place in the story."
The pilot, who worked for Helicopters Inc., was also well-known to KOMO employees, the story adds.
The helicopter reportedly crashed as it was taking off from a helipad on a building across from the Space Needle, with a National Transportation Safety Board official saying that it rotated in a counter-clockwise direction and then plummeted to the ground.
An investigation is under way, the report adds.