10/18/2010 // West Palm Beach, FL, US // Sandra Quinlan // Sandra Quinlan
Clarkson Valley, MO—Officials from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) have launched an investigation into a violent helicopter wreck that claimed the life of a veteran Missouri State Highway Patrol pilot. The fatal aviation accident occurred after 11 a.m. Friday, October 15, 2010, according to information provided by KTVI.
Reports indicated Sgt. Joe Schuengel, 47, was piloting a Bell Jet Ranger helicopter when something went wrong Friday morning. Schuengel was apparently en route to Chesterfield-based Spirit of St. Louis Airport when his helicopter crashed into a West County neighborhood.
While MSHP troopers received no distress call prior to the helicopter accident, witness Maureen Orbe told reporters, “I looked up and I saw the helicopter turned on its side with the propellers pointing towards me… And it was falling to the ground and the front of the helicopter was a little ahead but it was mainly on its side.”
“It seems like slow motion but it was like two seconds and I was on the phone in 5 seconds,” Orbe added. Emergency medical services (EMS) personnel, along with Missouri Highway Patrol troopers, were subsequently dispatched to the scene. Sadly, Schuengel was killed in the helicopter crash.
“I’ve flown with him before as have most of us here and we wouldn’t have done that if we hadn’t trusted him. He was a good pilot,” said MSHP Sgt. Al Nothum. Schuengel was a 17-year member of the MSHP and 7-year Troop C pilot.
FAA and NTSB authorities are expected to conduct a full probe to determine what might have caused the aircraft to go down so suddenly.
“It’s too early. I can tell you that our aircraft, this particular helicopter is maintained, maintenanced every 100 hours. And I can tell you Joe was very meticulous about this helicopter,” Nothum added.
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