“Three Lives Lost in Cal Fire Helicopter Collision”

The National Transportation Safety Board and other agencies are investigating a mid-air collision between two Cal Fire helicopters during a brush fire in Cabazon, California. Three lives were lost in the collision, and the victims have been identified as contract pilot Tony Susa and two CAL FIRE veterans. The Bell 407 Helicopter collided with a Sikorsky S-64 Helicopter, but the latter managed to make a safe landing. The cause of the collision is still under investigation. President Biden expressed his condolences and praised the bravery of firefighters. Tori Apodaca reported

The tragic mid-air collision between two Cal Fire helicopters during a brush fire in Cabazon, Riverside County, California, is currently under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board and other authorities. The incident resulted in the loss of three lives, leading to the lowering of flags at the California State Capitol in Sacramento as a mark of respect. The victims have been identified as contract pilot Tony Susa and two CAL FIRE veterans, Captain Tim Rodriguez and Assistant Chief Josh Bischof. One of the helicopters involved, a Bell 407, collided with a Sikorsky S-64 Helicopter (known as a Skycrane), which remarkably made a safe landing with only minor damage.

According to Isaac Sanchez, a Cal Fire battalion chief of communications, air attack operations typically have an air tactical group supervisor responsible for coordinating the safe operation of all aircraft involved. However, when multiple aircraft are present, additional leadership is required, such as a helicopter coordinator or military helicopter coordinator. In this particular incident, the Bell helicopter was operating as a helicopter coordinator, communicating with the Skycrane to direct its water drops onto the fire. It is still unclear what exactly caused the collision, and investigators are diligently working to uncover the truth.

President Biden expressed his condolences to the families of the victims and acknowledged the bravery of firefighters who put themselves at risk to protect communities from increasingly intense wildfires. The tragic collision serves as a stark reminder of their courage and dedication..