According to the National Transportation Safety Board, on May 24, 2013 around 6 p.m., the helicopter carrying pilot William Higgenbotham, 32, of Arizona and Catalina Richard, 21, from Collins, Mo. collided with a powerline near Cross Timbers, Mo.
The flight originated from Lucas Oil Speedway in
The wreckage was found from the air around 1:30 a.m. the following day in a thickly wooded area.
According to a witness, he observed the helicopter flying overhead and then landing in a field nearby. The witness says as the helicopter was flying by, the engine did not sound normal; however, he was not familiar with helicopter engines and their sounds.
Moments later, the helicopter appeared to have lifted off the ground and leveled off. The witness says he did not notice anything out of the ordinary at the time.
After the crash, an investigation was launched.
While looking into Higgenbotham, it was discovered he accumulated a total of 1,983.5 flight hours as of May 19, 2013. Of the 1,983.5 hours, 1,054.5 hours were in the make and model of the accident helicopter, 1,041.4 of which he served as pilot in command. He accumulated 918.8 flight hours in the accident helicopter.
During a post-accident examination, a powerline was found wrapped around the main rotor and a section of the line was found on the ground leading from the wreckage to the powerline pole, which would have suspended the line about 65 feet above the ground.
According to the pilot's ground marshal, when asked about the pilot's flying habits, he reported the pilot liked to be at least 500 feet above any clouds and no lower than 300 feet above ground level when the clouds were not a factor. The pilot would fly at cruise speeds so the passengers could take pictures.
No further information of the events leading to the helicopter striking the powerline was available at this time.
To see the full report, click the link above.