A firefighting helicopter crashed in Southern California, resulting in the deaths of three crew members. The crash occurred when the helicopter collided with another helicopter during a firefighting operation. The victims have been identified as Assistant Chief Josh Bischof, Capt. Tim Rodriguez, and pilot Tony Sousa. The cause of the crash is currently under investigation. California Gov. Gavin Newsom expressed condolences to the families and colleagues of the deceased. ABC13 Houston reported
A tragic incident occurred in Southern California when a firefighting helicopter crashed after colliding with another helicopter during a blaze. Unfortunately, all three crew members on board lost their lives in the accident. The victims have been identified as Assistant Chief Josh Bischof, Capt. Tim Rodriguez, and pilot Tony Sousa. Notably, Sousa was a contracted pilot, not a Cal Fire employee.
The incident took place after Riverside County firefighters responded to a structure fire in Cabazon. However, they soon discovered that the fire had spread to the nearby grass. Consequently, Cal Fire Southern Region Chief David Fulcher called in Cal Fire helicopters and planes to assist in containing the blaze.
During the firefighting operation, two helicopters collided unexpectedly. Fortunately, the first helicopter managed to land safely nearby, but tragically, the second helicopter crashed, resulting in the loss of all three crew members. An investigation is currently underway to determine the exact cause of the collision.
It is worth noting that mid-air collisions are highly uncommon, especially among experienced firefighters and pilots who are accustomed to operating in extreme conditions and at low altitudes, as observed by Cal Fire.
Both helicopters were contracted by Cal Fire and had different objectives at the scene. The helicopter that landed safely was a Sikorsky Skycrane, which is designed to carry retardant or water used to extinguish fires. On the other hand, the crashed helicopter was a Bell helicopter primarily used for observation during firefighting operations.
Regrettably, the collision caused an additional four-acre fire, which was promptly extinguished. Despite this tragic event, pilots and aircraft will continue to respond to fires across California, according to Cal Fire.
Governor Gavin Newsom of California expressed his condolences and sympathy, stating that their thoughts are with the loved ones, friends, and colleagues of Assistant Chief Bischof, Fire Captain Rodriguez, and Pilot Sousa. He acknowledged the dangers that firefighters face daily in their efforts to keep communities safe and emphasized the need to honor their bravery and sacrifices.
In conclusion, this devastating incident serves as a stark reminder of the risks firefighters encounter in the line of duty. The investigation into the collision continues, and the firefighting efforts in California persist, demonstrating the unwavering commitment and courage of these dedicated professionals..