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Current Events PopWrapped | Current Events

Helicopter Crash Near Seattle's Space Needle Kills Two And Puts Another In The Hospital

PopWrapped | PopWrapped Author


03/19/2014 5:47 pm
PopWrapped | Current Events
Helicopter Crash Near Seattle's Space Needle Kills Two And Puts Another In The Hospital
Media Courtesy of

Roxanne Powell

Content Editor


Firefighters rushed to the scene of a crash early yesterday morning when a KOMO news helicopter fell out of the sky. It landed on two cars and a pickup truck near the Space Needle in Seattle. While the occupants of two vehicles were able to escape, the third was rushed to Harborview Medical Center with bad burns. The burns victim, 38-year-old Richard Newman, suffered burns over 20% of his body. According to hospital spokeswoman Susan Gregg, he has been rushed into intensive care, and will likely need surgery due to his condition. As to the accident itself, Komo News reported that it exploded on impact, pouring smoke and flames and liquids all over the ground not 50 yards from the base of the Space Needle. The leaking liquid, fuel from the helicopter, took out a block before firefighters could get to it. Secondary explosions carried on for several minutes after the crash. Seattle Fire spokesman, Kyle Moore, revealed a little more about the damage: "Not only were the cars on fire, the fuel running down the street was on fire." Thankfully, the firefighters were able to stop the fuel from spreading into the sewers, where it would have been able to reach a wider area. While Richard Newman is expected to pull through, two other victims of the crash were not so lucky. Former KOMO News photographer Bill Strothman and pilot Gary Pfitzner were killed in the crash. Strothman worked as a freelancer after retiring from KOMO, while also working for Helicopters Inc. It was this company that leased and operated KOMO's news copters. KOMO news anchor, Molly Shen, expressed the company's love for Strothman: "We all know him as one of the best storytellers to have ever graced the halls of KOMO. It felt like a loss for us because he knows his craft so well, and he's such an artist and such a great journalist." Strothman is survived by his wife, daughter, and son. His son, Dan Strothman, follows in his father's footsteps as a photographer for KOMO. KOMO employees also knew Gary Pfitzner, who frequented the company halls due to his work with Helicopters Inc. "He always had a smile on his face," Shen said. "He loved what he did, loved to be able to fly and be up there above the city and see things from a perspective that most of us don't get to see." Reports indicate that the helicopter barely made it off the helipad before everything went wrong. The helicopter took off from the helipad atop Fisher Plaza, located just across the street from the Space Needle. "It looked like the helicopter was trying to take off, and it just was trying to stabilize and it looked odd ... and it just took a nose dive right down there on the street," said one eyewitness. "And the scary thing about it was the gas from the helicopter started leaking and it caught a car or two on fire - so it's crazy." Several other eyewitnesses reported their astonishment over the crash. Contractors working nearby said the helicopter was unable to right itself before it plummeted to the street. Broad Street will be closed as long as the investigation of the crash continues. After the fires were extinguished, only the tail of the chopper could be salvaged and identified. Due to their proximity to the crash, KOMO were the first on the scene. Unfortunately, this meant they were the first to report on the deaths of their colleagues and friends. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and NTSB will be working together on the investigation, but the latter will be leading it, officially. Grief counselors have been made available to KOMO employees in light of this tragedy. We here at PopWrapped extend our condolences to the KOMO team, as well as the Strothman and Pfitzner families.

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