Helicopter Crash Kills 8, Injures 1 in Louisiana

HOUMA, La. — Eight people were killed and a ninth was reported critically injured after a helicopter bound for the offshore oil fields crashed Sunday afternoon in marshlands about 100 miles southwest of New Orleans.

The helicopter, operated by PHI Inc., crashed about 3:30 p.m. shortly after taking off from PHI's base in Amelia, said Richard Rovinelli, a spokesman for the company. The cause of the crash isn't clear. Rovinelli did not know the type of helicopter or its exact destination.

He said the helicopter was carrying two pilots and seven passengers. Identities of the victims have not yet been released.

The National Transportation Safety Board has been advised of the crash and investigators were expected to arrive Monday, Rovinelli said.

Petty Officer Jaclyn Young said the Coast Guard assisted Terrebonne Parish sheriff's deputies in searching for and recovering the bodies of the dead and rescuing the survivor from the marshy Bayou Penchant area. A spokesman for the sheriff's office could not be reached for comment.

Young said that the survivor was being transported to Ochsner Medical Facility in suburban New Orleans. Young said the person, who has not been identified, was in critical condition.

Lafayette-based PHI is a primary provider of helicopter services to oil and gas platforms that dot the coast of Louisiana. It also flies medical helicopters.

Workers typically are flown to and from their worksites from coastal flight bases.

In June, a PHI Air Medical helicopter crashed in Texas, killing four. The accident in the Sam Houston National Forest killed the pilot, paramedic, nurse and a patient who was being transported from Huntsville to Houston. That crew agreed to transport the patient after another helicopter company abandoned the mission saying that cloud cover was too low, making visibility poor in the early-morning darkness.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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