TV Meteorologist and Pilot Die in Helicopter Crash in North Carolina
A helicopter crew of three perished when the aircraft failed to gain sufficient altitude to cross an open stretch of I-77, crashing into the wooded hills above the nearby town of Apex on July 24, 2011. All three crew members were found deceased inside the aircraft, which was carrying the pilot, his passenger and a news photographer. The only survivor was the helicopter’s crew chief. No one was found alive in the wreckage of the aircraft, in what was described as the worst single-vehicle crash in the United States by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
In a later inquest, it was determined that the helicopter’s pilot, the deceased’s passenger, and the deceased’s news photographer had all been trapped inside the aircraft at the time of the accident. After the fatal collision, the pilot was not discovered for approximately an hour, and radioed a request for assistance from the helicopter carrying his passenger and the news photographer. When help arrived at the scene in Apex, the helicopter crashed while carrying both the pilot and the news photographer without incident.
The three crew members who perished in the crash were identified as: James “Jim” Brown, 48, a pilot for American Helicopter Companies; Kevin “Mike” Harris, 29, a videographer for the Associated Press, and his colleague, Ryan Sommers, a photographer for the Associated Press.
The incident occurred shortly after 11 p.m. on July 24, 2011, on I-77 in Apex, North Carolina, and occurred more than 70 miles (110 km) from the nearest airport. The area was rural and home to numerous farmers, and witnesses reported that the helicopter failed to gain sufficient altitude to cross the open stretch of pavement, which was on the adjacent side of the highway. The helicopter hit a high embankment on the driver’s side after passing a large farm field. The impact caused the aircraft to burst into flames,