Pilot killed in helicopter crash | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Pilot killed in helicopter crash

Belinda Grant / The Record-Courier/ At least one person was killed Tuesday in a helicopter crash that occurred off Foothill Road south of David Walley's Hot Springs. Firefighters at the scene extinguished a small fire that resulted from the crash.

GENOA – A Carson Valley pilot died when his helicopter crashed shortly before 8 a.m. Tuesday in a cow pasture on the Jubilee Ranch, just east of Foothill Road and south of Muller Lane.

The victim was identified as Kingsbury Grade resident Patrick Samal, 41, who commuted in his Robinson R-44 helicopter, according to Doyle Holden, a Douglas County resident and acquaintance.

He said Samal had a Bay Area business.

“He was probably flying from his house to the (Reno) airport,” Holden said.

Ranchhand Warren Fillmore witnessed the accident.

“I heard a loud clanking sound, like something ripped off,” Fillmore said. “The helicopter came straight down and exploded when it hit the ground.

“It happened so quick, there was nothing to do,” he said. “It was about three to four seconds between the sound and the explosion.”

Nothing was left of the aircraft and at press time just one body had been discovered, according to Sheriff Ron Pierini.

The plume of smoke from the wreckage was sometimes punctuated by a small blaze, the only remnants on this quiet morning, as officials stood by. One of the few recognizable pieces was a portion of the tail, which lay about 30 feet from the wreckage.

Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, East Fork Fire and Paramedic Districts and Minden-Tahoe Airport responded to the crash. Local officials will guard the site until investigators from the Federal Aviation Administration arrive.

“Our investigators are taking photos of the scene, but the determination concerning the crash will be made by the FAA,” Pierini said.

Holden, who also owns one of these helicopters, said Samal owned the helicopter for about 18 months. He purchased it after a hard landing and subsequent rollover crash of his first helicopter, a Robinson R-22.

“The helicopter was destroyed, but he and a passenger got out fine,” Holden said of the earlier crash.

Built in Torrance, the helicopters are flown by police departments for other lighter, private uses, Holden said.

“These helicopters are very reliable. They don’t have a record of mechanical failure,” he said. “They fly to the Bay Area in about 11Ú2 hours.”

Pierini said airplane crashes occur regularly in Carson Valley. An experimental jet crashed off Foothill Road a couple of years ago and more recently, an experimental plane crashed near Mottsville. “And it’s not at all uncommon to have a glider go down,” he said.

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