Preliminary report released for deadly Wood County helicopter crash

Published: Jan. 15, 2018 at 12:07 PM EST
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Two people are dead after a helicopter crash in Wood County.

The crash happened just before noon near Bradner Road, just south of the Ohio Turnpike in Genoa.

Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn tells 13abc that the helicopter is affiliated with a utility company. They were out doing survey work on lines in the area. Two people were on board, and both of them died.

The Wood County sheriff's office has identified the pilot as Tyson Snyder, 32, of Wooster, Ohio, and his passenger,Jeffrey Fluharty, 62, of Fairmont, West Virginia.

The company is said to not be based in Toledo, and the two killed were not from northwest Ohio.

Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board are expected on the scene Tuesday morning to being an investigation.

Some people living near Monday’s deadly helicopter crash scene heard the crash, not realizing exactly what they heard until they saw the wreckage.

The sound of a low flying helicopter is something residents living off Pemberville and Bradner roads hear quite often. Monday though they heard a sound they're not familiar with hearing.

"All I heard was a big boom. I thought it was a tire that blew off a truck on the turnpike," said Sandra Minarik who lives near the crash scene.

Unfortunately that's not what Minarik heard after she got a phone call from another neighbor.

"A neighbor called and said a plane had crashed in my woods. And I ran out into the woods and I didn't see anything," said Minarik.

She eventually found the wreckage in another person's yard. Another neighbor says they heard what they now believe was this helicopter while in flight this morning.

"The helicopter going back and forth but it's not unusual out here," said Ken Reeves who lives near the crash site.

Reeves and others say they see if a few times a month, inspecting the power lines.

"You see the helicopter buzzing up and down. They follow the high tension lines as afar as you can see in both directions," said Reeves.

"It's very sad. Very sad. I feel bad for all the families involved," said Minarik.

Minarik flies her own plane in this area. While it's far too early to tell how this crash occurred, she is always cautious around one part of these lines.

"The one thing that scares us is that there are these stabilizing wires along the line and they're very, very difficult to see. When we take off we go left or right to get over them. With these snowy conditions it would be hard to see those lines," said Minarik.

Those neighbors say the helicopters do fly pretty low in this area looking at the lines but they're not sure exactly how low the pilot was flying Monday.

UPDATE: 12:00pm 1/16/18

The National Transportation Safety Board is now investigating the helicopter crash. Investigators arrived in Wood County today. They will spend hours processing the scene, and looking at the helicopter before it is shipped to a facility in Tennessee for further examination.

The lead safety investigator tells 13abc they will not speculate on any cause of the crash at this time. They will research the pilot's history, his flight experience and any medical records to check for potential health problems.

They will also search for the "black box" recorders and process those for any pictures or last words that could explain what happened.

At the time of the crash it was snowing and visibility was between 1-1.5 miles in the area where the helicopter was flying. The NTSB says they work with meteorologists in Washington, D.C. to evaluate conditions and if they played a role.

The lead safety investigator on scene says the helicopter appears to have landed on it's belly. According to the NTSB, the rotors have minor damage indicating there was little power and rotation when it hit the ground.

A preliminary report on the crash will be available within 5 days. The full investigation is expected to take a year.

UPDATE: 12:00pm 1/26/18

NTSB has released the preliminary report for the deadly helicopter crash. At this time, no cause has been determined. We will continue to update this story when the final report is released.

The full preliminary report is attached here.