Lafayette-based company’s helicopter involved in fatal Virginia crash

A Lafayette company’s helicopter collided with an airplane midair in Virginia around 2:30 p.m. and resulted in two deaths.

By Nicholas Persac • npersac@theadvertiser.com • December 31, 2010

Jim Peters, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman in New York, said a medevac helicopter registered to Lafayette-based PHI, Inc. was landing at Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport in Weyers Cave, Va. when it collided with a Cessna 172 airplane that was taking off.
The crash occurred about half mile from the airport, Peters said. The PHI helicopter, which had three people on board, was able to safely land in a nearby field. All three people survived the crash.
The two people on board the airplane died, and the Cessana 172 was destroyed, Peters said.
Brad Deutser, PHI Air Medical spokesman, said the helicopter was returning from a “successful medical air mission to their base at the airport.”
Deutser said the single engine plane hit the bottom of the helicopter as it tried to land. He said the accident was “tragic.”
“Everyone is deeply saddened by the loss of life and recognizes at the same time its extremely fortunate there were not additional injuries,” Deutser said.
Peters couldn’t immediately say how often comparable accidents happen. He said FAA and National Transportation Safety Board officials are traveling to the site to conduct further investigations.
“We’re working closely with the FAA and NTSB and local authorities to understand what happened in the incident, “ Deutser said. “We’ll do everything possible to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

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